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Racial Inequality Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class

America’s middle class is under assault. Since 1983, national median wealth has declined by 20 percent, falling from $73,000 to $64,000 in 2013. And U.S....

Racial Inequality Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class

America’s middle class is under assault. Since 1983, national median wealth has declined by 20 percent, falling from $73,000 to $64,000 in 2013. And U.S....

‘Prince George’ or ‘George at ASDA’: Britain’s inequality chasm laid bare by school uniforms

As Prince George starts his first day of school decked out in a £370 uniform...

What Would It Really Take to Reverse Inequality?

What are the key drivers of extreme inequality?A more critical explanation for inequality is the ways in which the rules governing the economy have...

Addressing Inequality at the Root:

WASHINGTON - Almost half of all workers earn under $15 an hour and one in every seven Americans – 43 million people – live...

On Fighting Inequality, Which Nations Do More Than Pay Lip Service?

Two years ago, in 2015, just about all the nations in the world came together and agreed to make reducing inequality -- the gap...

NYC: Front Line of Income Inequality

New York City faced a crisis four decades ago with a massive electrical failure and fear of crime. Now, it...

Amazon Acquisition of Whole Foods Would Consolidate Market and Increase Inequality

Janine Jackson: Looking for news on Amazon's proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, you'll find yourself awash in articles like "Is Whole Foods a Healthy...

London Fire Fuels Movement to Tackle Inequality in Britain

Didn't Prime Minister Theresa May initially make some proposals to reduce inequality? When she first became prime minister less than a year ago, she spoke...

How Corporate Family Leave Policies Are Fueling Inequality

Some major U.S. corporations recently made headlines by creating relatively generous paid parental leave policies—but a new report out Wednesday shows that most companies...

Grotesque Inequality and Anxiety

Anxiety and depression are at unprecedented levels worldwide and the numbers are growing. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes it as an epidemic, and...

The Tax Code Perpetuates Inequality: 1 Percent of Taxpayers Receive More Than the Bottom...

Janine Jackson: The group ProPublica has exposed how efforts to make paying your taxes easy and free with a pre-filled filing from the government, as is done in parts...

Saqib Bhatti on Wells Fargo, Jeremie Greer on Taxes and Inequality

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Morbid Inequality: Now Just SIX Men Have as Much Wealth as Half the World's...

Yes, inequality is getting worse every year. In early 2016 Oxfam reported that just 62 individuals had the same wealth as the bottom half of humanity....

Class Society and Inequality: Debunking the Myth

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg is a meticulously documented investigation of the historical roots of class...

#FightInequality: Week of Action Aims to Tackle 'Crisis Reaching New Extremes'

Economic inequality tops the list of global risks, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said Wednesday, just ahead of a global week of action that...

Income Inequality Is Off the Charts. Can Local Policies Make a Difference?

Occupy Wall Street protesters sleep on the sidewalk near the New York Stock Exchange, April 16, 2012. (Marcus Yam / The New York Times) The...

Britain in 2030: Brexit & robotics herald inequality, mass unemployment – IPPR

Britain faces a decade of low growth in the wake of Brexit with widening income...

Reducing Inequality in the Trump Era

In a lot of ways, 2016 was a big year for reducing inequality. Five states raised their minimum wage through citizen-led ballot initiatives. A job-killing...

Seventeen Ballot Initiatives to Watch if You Care About Inequality

During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, when levels of inequality were as sky-high as they are today, progressive reformers fought...

Mansions and Slums: the Inequality of Living Space

Photo by Abhisek Sarda | CC BY 2.0   Australians have the biggest homes in the world. New free-standing homes are an average 245.3 sqm –...
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Video: “America Divided”: New TV Series Explores Inequality from Water to Housing to Mass...

http://democracynow.org - With the presidential election less than five weeks away, the explosive new documentary "America Divided" explores inequality in ... Via Youtube

Celebrating the One Percent: Is Inequality Really Good for the Economy?

To paraphrase Mark Twain, everyone complains about inequality, but nobody does anything about it. What they do is to use “inequality” as a takeoff point...

Staggering class inequality ‘contributed to Brexit’ – Oxfam

Britain’s staggering social inequality – where the richest 1 percent possess more than 20 times...

The Need to Rid the World of Inequality

Legalized chattel slavery did not die out because it was an abhorrent system but because the system of wage labour and debt money offered...
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Video: Society Is Failing Our Families: Sister Simone Campbell on Inequality, Donald Trump &...

http://democracynow.org - Last week in Philadelphia, a caravan of Nuns on the Bus pulled up to the Democratic National Convention after visiting 13 states,...

Proportionate Responses to Madness, Inequality, Injustice, Death

The political and elite class have us in a continual experiment of the new Inquisition …the bourgeois order . . . has become a vampire...

NYT Lets $27 Million Man Brag About What He’s Doing for Income Inequality

They must have been high-fiving themselves at JPMorgan Chase’s PR offices this morning. Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, was given prime space on the New York...

NYT Lets $27 Million Man Brag About What He’s Doing for Income Inequality

They must have been high-fiving themselves at JPMorgan Chase’s PR offices this morning. Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, was given prime space on the New York...

People’s March descends on downtown Pittsburgh to protest inequality & hate

Published time: 8 Jul, 2016 20:31 Thousands are marching in downtown Pittsburgh over civil rights, inequality, and...
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Video: Tariq Ali: Global revolt against corporate capitalism & inequality – ‘On Contact’ with...

In the first episode of 'On Contact', host Chris Hedges discusses the global revolt against corporate capitalism with radical intellectual and author Tariq Ali. Via...

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Shift Away From Traditional Pensions Contributes to Inequality,...

In today's On the News segment: A report from the US Government Accountability Office shows the shift away from traditional pensions to...

Reports document growing income inequality, declining manufacturing pay

America in the 21st century Kate Randall A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that more than four-fifths of US metropolitan areas have seen...

Inequality Will Get Worse Until There’s a Revolution

Imagine, after a deep sleep, you suffered the fate of Rip Van Winkle and woke in the spring of 2040. What might you find? Among...

Big Money in Politics Doesn’t Just Drive Inequality. It Drives War.

Khalil Bendib / OtherWords.org The 2016 presidential elections are proving historic, and not just because of the surprising success of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, the...

UK ‘behind’ developed world on child inequality – UNICEF

Britain is failing to address “concerning gaps” in children’s “health, education and income,” leaving the...

Ontario report: Inequality at levels “not seen since the Great Depression”

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Dylan Lubao A report published by the union-backed Ontario Common Front paints...

Inequality in the United States’ Political Class

In the lead-up to his New Hampshire primary victory, Senator Bernie Sanders boosted his public support by blasting Hillary Clinton's lucrative ties to Wall Street. This...

How Corporate Bamboozlers Intend to Widen Inequality in America

The basic problem facing the corporate and political powers that want you and me to swallow their Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is that they can't...

Inequality Against Democracy: 10 Facts About the 1 Percent

Economic inequality inspired Occupy Wall Street, a movement that in a few short months transformed our political discourse with the concept of the “1...

Sanders condemns US mass incarceration, income inequality

US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has once again blasted the mass incarceration and vast income inequality in the country, two common themes in...
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Video: Part 2: Oxfam Says Privatization, Tax Havens Drive Global Inequality to Staggering Levels

http://democracynow.org - Extended web-only interview with Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. The group just issued the report, "An Economy ... Via Youtube

Here’s What the Millionaires at Davos Can Do About Global Inequality

(Image: Mike Licht / Flickr) Every winter the world’s political and business elite retreat to the Swiss mountain resort of Davos to think deep thoughts...

The World’s Inequality Countdown

Welcome to the world's inequality countdown. In 2010, some 388 people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population. Jump...

AlterNet Cites FAIR on Media and Inequality

AlterNet associate editor (and frequent FAIR contributor) Adam Johnson cited FAIR’s research on media and poverty: Bringing up the issue of poverty to the debates’...

Income Inequality Is a Health Hazard – Even for the Rich

In the United States, the most affluent die at a greater rate in counties with higher income inequality than the poorest in counties with...

Inequality in America, the Fish that Rots from the Head

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Inequality of wealth is inequality of power. A study just released finds that "America’s 20 wealthiest people – a group that...
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Video: Climate Change and Inequality Are Driving War and Catastrophic Conflicts from Syria to...

As Democracy Now! broadcasts from the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris, France, we examine the connection between a warming planet and increasing conflicts ... Via...
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Video: The Global Poor vs. the 10%: How Climate Inequality Hurts the Most Vulnerable...

A new report by Oxfam has found the richest 10 percent of the world's population produce half of the Earth's climate-harming fossil fuel emissions....

Have We Hit Peak Inequality?

When should we be alarmed about so much wealth in so few hands? The Great Recession and its anemic recovery only deepened the economic inequality...

Mind-Blowing Inequality as America’s 20 Richest Own More Than Bottom Half

Study of Forbes 400 finds nation's wealthiest own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country, or 194 million people by Lauren McCauley The divide...

Study: Pay inequality widening in UK

A new research says the pay packets of the UK’s top 350 company boardrooms shows 52 executives were paid at least 100 percent more...

Pay inequality between bosses & workers ‘widening’ every year, study shows

Research by the Labour Research Department into the pay packets of the top 350 company boardrooms shows 52 executives were paid at least 100...
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Video: Social inequality keeping the poor in ghetto & the rich healthy: World Medical...

WATCH THE FULL EPISODE HERE:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c36ByD7ziwk Advances in medicine and improved living conditions have led to better ... Via Youtube
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Video: Keiser Report: Radical Ideas to fix Inequality (E838) (ft Varoufakis)

Check Keiser Report website for more: http://www.maxkeiser.com/ In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert briefly discuss the former ... Via...
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Video: Our Economy Is Not Working: Joseph Stiglitz on Widening Income Inequality & the...

The fight over income inequality gained national attention when fast-food workers walked off the job in hundreds of cities across the country on Tuesday...
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Video: New Research Says Income Inequality Worsened Under Fed’s Quantitative Easing Policy

PERI's Gerald Epstein also says there's no evidence that raising already-low interest rates will narrow the gap. Via Youtube

Eighty Percent of Us Owe Money to Institutions; Can We Leverage It to Reduce...

Among the most fascinating aspects of debt today is the fact that just about everybody has some. While we may not agree on which...
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Video: Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo Praises Pope for Linking Climate Fight to Inequality & Poverty

Climate change has been a key focus of Pope Francis' visit to the United States. During his address to Congress on Thursday, the pope...

UK psychologists campaign against cuts and social inequality

By Ross Mitchell In August, British psychologists organised a five-day “Walk the Talk” march, to protest against budget cuts and social inequality and the effects they...
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Video: New Orleans After Katrina: Inequality Soars as Poor Continue to Be Left Behind...

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population of New Orleans is now approximately 385000–about 80 percent of...

Yes, Racism Is Rooted in Economic Inequality

Hillary Clinton is an astute campaigner. In a Facebook Q&A the other day, she was asked about the Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted...
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Video: Yellen Signals Interest Rate Hike, But Will It Decrease Inequality?

PERI's Gerald Epstein says the Fed needs to expand its toolbox to get finance to Main Street because raising interest rates will hurt workers. Via...

Inequality in Australia rising at one of world’s fastest rates

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. By Cheryl McDermid An Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) report has revealed...

US income inequality continued to soar in 2014

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. By Andre Damon Income inequality in the United States continued to grow in...

Message to Congress on Trade and Inequality: Wake Up, ‘Trickle-Down’ is Dead!

(Common Dreams) - The debate over trade is red-hot these days. Proponents in Congress are revving up this week to push through their ‘Plan B’...

Our "Stealth Politics" of Inequality

Average Americans today have essentially zilch influence on public policy. You don't need to trust your gut on that. Political scientist Benjamin Page has...

The Money Junkies And The Cause of Social Inequality

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Last week the New York Times released the results of an...
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Video: John Smith: Inequality a “worrying trend in British politics” General Election 12Jun1987

John Smith attended the Bilderberg conference in 1991 and kicked off about it all saying he wanted to bring some real economists to the...

Inequality in US highest among developed countries

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published a new study that explores income inequality in its 34 states. The study, released on...

Growing Global Inequality Gap ‘Has Reached a Tipping Point’

'When such a large group in the population gains so little from economic growth, the social fabric frays and trust in institutions is weakened.' (Common...

Most voters think the government should prioritise fighting inequality over economic growth

A survey by pollsters YouGov found that of the main parties only Conservative supporters were significantly more likely to care about economic growth than...

The big lie: Obama, Hillary/Bill, Bush, “income inequality and violence”

by Jon Rappoport (NoMoreFakeNews) - “There are lots of ways to destroy communities. One of the most successful is: take jobs away. Cancel jobs. Then, cover this...

Inequality root cause of uprising

Racial and economic inequality is the root cause of the current protest movement that is spreading across the United States, says an American political commentator...

8 Ways to Reduce Global Inequality

This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. The path to a more equal world is steep, but the signposts are clearly...

‘Eye popping’ City bonuses highlight scale of UK inequality — tax justice group

Bonuses paid by financial firms since the onslaught of the financial crisis will surpass £100 billion in 2015. Campaigners warn that Britain’s finance sector...

Rising Global Inequality and the Reign of Corporate Empire

Steven MacMillan Today’s world is increasingly becoming dominated by private special interests and multinational corporations who usurp political systems around the world, creating vast wealth...

Ebola: A Symptom of Economic Inequality

While the Ebola virus is spreading globally, its impact will mostly felt in the world’s poorer regions, especially Africa and the Asian subcontinent. Rob Prince Of...

Global Inequality Keeps Getting Worse

You need to know this. Global inequality just keeps getting worse. According to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development —...

Report says inequality is elitist ‘social engineering’

Inequality in Britain is so structured that it could be called “social engineering”, according to a new report. The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission...

Peak Inequality: The .01% And The Impoverishment Of Society

An extensive analysis of economic conditions and government policy reveals that the need for significant systemic change is now a mathematical fact. Corruption, greed and economic inequality...

Report: US Income Inequality Dampening Economic Growth

Standard & Poor's says U.S. is approaching threshold of extreme levels inequality. Deirdre Fulton Increasing income inequality is hindering U.S. economic growth and weakening the country's...

Workers speak out against social inequality and rising costs of living

Todd Mason A new report put out jointly in June by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, and the Maryland...

THE POLITICS AND ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY: A LECTURE TO THE TOP…

Thursday, July 3, 2014

THE POLITICS AND ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY: A LECTURE TO THE TOP ONE-TENTH OF 1 PERCENT

Here’s the Aspen Lecture I gave recently at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival. The irony of talking about inequality with an audience composed almost entirely of the richest one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans was not lost on me. When I suggested that we return to the 70 percent income-tax rate on top incomes that prevailed before 1981, many looked as if I had punched them in the gut.

But I stressed it’s not a zero-sum game, and they’d do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy — growing because the vast middle class and the poor had the purchasing power to get the economy back on track — than they’re doing with a large share of an economy that’s barely growing at all.

It’s crucial that America’s most powerful and privileged understand what’s happening, and why they must support fundamental reform.

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Financial Bubble Implosions. Asset Price Inflation and Social Inequality

It is now common knowledge that the U.S. economy has in recent years been experiencing extremely uneven developments. While the financial sector has been...

Inequality doubles in the US between 2003-2013

Gabriel Black A report released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Michigan provides further confirmation of the enormous increase in wealth inequality in the United States...

‘Little Evidence’ Wealth Inequality Is Going to Change Anytime Soon

New study finds wealth gap doubled over past decade Andrea Germanos The wealth gap roughly doubled over the past decade–a sign of a trend of growing...

Hillary Clinton Talks Income Inequality, Critics Don’t Buy It

Every presidential election cycle heats up quicker than the last, with the dismaying inevitability of Christmas marketing in May. With that in mind, it...

Growing social inequality in Germany

Denis Krasnin The Central Equality Association, an alliance of social welfare organisations, has published its annual report for 2014 under the title “Society: In crisis?”...

Why Even Business Leaders Now Realize Widening Inequality is a Terrible Problem

A few weeks ago I was visited in my office by the chairman of one of the country’s biggest high-tech firms who wanted to...

Global Inequality: The Hard facts

On a global level, instead of international tax and monetary policies shrinking global inequality, they have helped do the opposite at a great expense...

How to Shrink Inequality

Some inequality of income and wealth is inevitable, if not necessary. If an economy is to function well, people need incentives to work hard and innovate.

The pertinent question is not whether income and wealth inequality is good or bad. It is at what point do these inequalities become so great as to pose a serious threat to our economy, our ideal of equal opportunity and our democracy.

We are near or have already reached that tipping point. As French economist Thomas Piketty shows beyond doubt in his “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” we are heading back to levels of inequality not seen since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. The dysfunctions of our economy and politics are not self-correcting when it comes to inequality.

But a return to the Gilded Age is not inevitable. It is incumbent on us to dedicate ourselves to reversing this diabolical trend. But in order to reform the system, we need a political movement for shared prosperity.

Herewith a short summary of what has happened, how it threatens the foundations of our society, why it has happened, and what we must do to reverse it.

What has Happened

The data on widening inequality are remarkably and disturbingly clear. The Congressional Budget Office has found that between 1979 and 2007, the onset of the Great Recession, the gap in income—after federal taxes and transfer payments—more than tripled between the top 1 percent of the population and everyone else. The after-tax, after-transfer income of the top 1 percent increased by 275 percent, while it increased less than 40 percent for the middle three quintiles of the population and only 18 percent for the bottom quintile.

The gap has continued to widen in the recovery. According to the Census Bureau, median family and median household incomes have been falling, adjusted for inflation; while according to the data gathered by my colleague Emmanuel Saez, the income of the wealthiest 1 percent has soared by 31 percent. In fact, Saez has calculated that 95 percent of all economic gains since the recovery began have gone to the top 1 percent.

Wealth has become even more concentrated than income. An April 2013 Pew Research Center report found that from 2009 to 2011, “the mean net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent.”

Why It Threatens Our Society

This trend is now threatening the three foundation stones of our society: our economy, our ideal of equal opportunity and our democracy.

The economy. In the United States, consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of economic activity. If consumers don’t have adequate purchasing power, businesses have no incentive to expand or hire additional workers. Because the rich spend a smaller proportion of their incomes than the middle class and the poor, it stands to reason that as a larger and larger share of the nation’s total income goes to the top, consumer demand is dampened. If the middle class is forced to borrow in order to maintain its standard of living, that dampening may come suddenly—when debt bubbles burst.

Consider that the two peak years of inequality over the past century—when the top 1 percent garnered more than 23 percent of total income—were 1928 and 2007. Each of these periods was preceded by substantial increases in borrowing, which ended notoriously in the Great Crash of 1929 and the near-meltdown of 2008.

The anemic recovery we are now experiencing is directly related to the decline in median household incomes after 2009, coupled with the inability or unwillingness of consumers to take on additional debt and of banks to finance that debt—wisely, given the damage wrought by the bursting debt bubble. We cannot have a growing economy without a growing and buoyant middle class. We cannot have a growing middle class if almost all of the economic gains go to the top 1 percent.

Equal opportunity. Widening inequality also challenges the nation’s core ideal of equal opportunity, because it hampers upward mobility. High inequality correlates with low upward mobility. Studies are not conclusive because the speed of upward mobility is difficult to measure.

But even under the unrealistic assumption that its velocity is no different today than it was thirty years ago—that someone born into a poor or lower-middle-class family today can move upward at the same rate as three decades ago—widening inequality still hampers upward mobility. That’s simply because the ladder is far longer now. The distance between its bottom and top rungs, and between every rung along the way, is far greater. Anyone ascending it at the same speed as before will necessarily make less progress upward.

In addition, when the middle class is in decline and median household incomes are dropping, there are fewer possibilities for upward mobility. A stressed middle class is also less willing to share the ladder of opportunity with those below it. For this reason, the issue of widening inequality cannot be separated from the problems of poverty and diminishing opportunities for those near the bottom. They are one and the same.

Democracy. The connection between widening inequality and the undermining of democracy has long been understood. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is famously alleged to have said in the early years of the last century, an era when robber barons dumped sacks of money on legislators’ desks, “We may have a democracy, or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

As income and wealth flow upward, political power follows. Money flowing to political campaigns, lobbyists, think tanks, “expert” witnesses and media campaigns buys disproportionate influence. With all that money, no legislative bulwark can be high enough or strong enough to protect the democratic process.

The threat to our democracy also comes from the polarization that accompanies high levels of inequality. Partisanship—measured by some political scientists as the distance between median Republican and Democratic roll-call votes on key economic issues—almost directly tracks with the level of inequality. It reached high levels in the first decades of the twentieth century when inequality soared, and has reached similar levels in recent years.

When large numbers of Americans are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, and see most of the economic gains going to a small group at the top, they suspect the game is rigged. Some of these people can be persuaded that the culprit is big government; others, that the blame falls on the wealthy and big corporations. The result is fierce partisanship, fueled by anti-establishment populism on both the right and the left of the political spectrum.

Why It Has Happened

Between the end of World War II and the early 1970s, the median wage grew in tandem with productivity. Both roughly doubled in those years, adjusted for inflation. But after the 1970s, productivity continued to rise at roughly the same pace as before, while wages began to flatten. In part, this was due to the twin forces of globalization and labor-replacing technologies that began to hit the American workforce like strong winds—accelerating into massive storms in the 1980s and ’90s, and hurricanes since then.

Containers, satellite communication technologies, and cargo ships and planes radically reduced the cost of producing goods anywhere around the globe, thereby eliminating many manufacturing jobs or putting downward pressure on other wages. Automation, followed by computers, software, robotics, computer-controlled machine tools and widespread digitization, further eroded jobs and wages. These forces simultaneously undermined organized labor. Unionized companies faced increasing competitive pressures to outsource, automate or move to nonunion states.

These forces didn’t erode all incomes, however. In fact, they added to the value of complex work done by those who were well educated, well connected and fortunate enough to have chosen the right professions. Those lucky few who were perceived to be the most valuable saw their pay skyrocket.

But that’s only part of the story. Instead of responding to these gale-force winds with policies designed to upgrade the skills of Americans, modernize our infrastructure, strengthen our safety net and adapt the workforce—and pay for much of this with higher taxes on the wealthy—we did the reverse. We began disinvesting in education, job training and infrastructure. We began shredding our safety net. We made it harder for many Americans to join unions. (The decline in unionization directly correlates with the decline of the portion of income going to the middle class.) And we reduced taxes on the wealthy.

We also deregulated. Financial deregulation in particular made finance the most lucrative industry in America, as it had been in the 1920s. Here again, the parallels between the 1920s and recent years are striking, reflecting the same pattern of inequality.

Other advanced economies have faced the same gale-force winds but have not suffered the same inequalities as we have because they have helped their workforces adapt to the new economic realities—leaving the United States the most unequal of all advanced nations by far.

What We Must Do

There is no single solution for reversing widening inequality. Thomas Piketty’s monumental book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” paints a troubling picture of societies dominated by a comparative few, whose cumulative wealth and unearned income overshadow the majority who rely on jobs and earned income. But our future is not set in stone, and Piketty’s description of past and current trends need not determine our path in the future. Here are ten initiatives that could reverse the trends described above:

1) Make work pay. The fastest-growing categories of work are retail, restaurant (including fast food), hospital (especially orderlies and staff), hotel, childcare and eldercare. But these jobs tend to pay very little. A first step toward making work pay is to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, pegging it to inflation; abolish the tipped minimum wage; and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. No American who works full time should be in poverty.

2) Unionize low-wage workers. The rise and fall of the American middle class correlates almost exactly with the rise and fall of private-sector unions, because unions gave the middle class the bargaining power it needed to secure a fair share of the gains from economic growth. We need to reinvigorate unions, beginning with low-wage service occupations that are sheltered from global competition and from labor-replacing technologies. Lower-wage Americans deserve more bargaining power.

3) Invest in education. This investment should extend from early childhood through world-class primary and secondary schools, affordable public higher education, good technical education and lifelong learning. Education should not be thought of as a private investment; it is a public good that helps both individuals and the economy. Yet for too many Americans, high-quality education is unaffordable and unattainable. Every American should have an equal opportunity to make the most of herself or himself. High-quality education should be freely available to all, starting at the age of 3 and extending through four years of university or technical education.

4) Invest in infrastructure. Many working Americans—especially those on the lower rungs of the income ladder—are hobbled by an obsolete infrastructure that generates long commutes to work, excessively high home and rental prices, inadequate Internet access, insufficient power and water sources, and unnecessary environmental degradation. Every American should have access to an infrastructure suitable to the richest nation in the world.

5) Pay for these investments with higher taxes on the wealthy. Between the end of World War II and 1981 (when the wealthiest were getting paid a far lower share of total national income), the highest marginal federal income tax rate never fell below 70 percent, and the effective rate (including tax deductions and credits) hovered around 50 percent. But with Ronald Reagan’s tax cut of 1981, followed by George W. Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, the taxes on top incomes were slashed, and tax loopholes favoring the wealthy were widened. The implicit promise—sometimes made explicit—was that the benefits from such cuts would trickle down to the broad middle class and even to the poor. As I’ve shown, however, nothing trickled down. At a time in American history when the after-tax incomes of the wealthy continue to soar, while median household incomes are falling, and when we must invest far more in education and infrastructure, it seems appropriate to raise the top marginal tax rate and close tax loopholes that disproportionately favor the wealthy.

6) Make the payroll tax progressive. Payroll taxes account for 40 percent of government revenues, yet they are not nearly as progressive as income taxes. One way to make the payroll tax more progressive would be to exempt the first $15,000 of wages and make up the difference by removing the cap on the portion of income subject to Social Security payroll taxes.

7) Raise the estate tax and eliminate the “stepped-up basis” for determining capital gains at death. As Piketty warns, the United States, like other rich nations, could be moving toward an oligarchy of inherited wealth and away from a meritocracy based on labor income. The most direct way to reduce the dominance of inherited wealth is to raise the estate tax by triggering it at $1 million of wealth per person rather than its current $5.34 million (and thereafter peg those levels to inflation). We should also eliminate the “stepped-up basis” rule that lets heirs avoid capital gains taxes on the appreciation of assets that occurred before the death of their benefactors.

8) Constrain Wall Street. The financial sector has added to the burdens of the middle class and the poor through excesses that were the proximate cause of an economic crisis in 2008, similar to the crisis of 1929. Even though capital requirements have been tightened and oversight strengthened, the biggest banks are still too big to fail, jail or curtail—and therefore capable of generating another crisis. The Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial- and investment-banking functions, should be resurrected in full, and the size of the nation’s biggest banks should be capped.

9) Give all Americans a share in future economic gains. The richest 10 percent of Americans own roughly 80 percent of the value of the nation’s capital stock; the richest 1 percent own about 35 percent. As the returns to capital continue to outpace the returns to labor, this allocation of ownership further aggravates inequality. Ownership should be broadened through a plan that would give every newborn American an “opportunity share” worth, say, $5,000 in a diversified index of stocks and bonds—which, compounded over time, would be worth considerably more. The share could be cashed in gradually starting at the age of 18.

10) Get big money out of politics. Last, but certainly not least, we must limit the political influence of the great accumulations of wealth that are threatening our democracy and drowning out the voices of average Americans. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision must be reversed—either by the Court itself, or by constitutional amendment. In the meantime, we must move toward the public financing of elections—for example, with the federal government giving presidential candidates, as well as House and Senate candidates in general elections, $2 for every $1 raised from small donors.

Building a Movement

It’s doubtful that these and other measures designed to reverse widening inequality will be enacted anytime soon. Having served in Washington, I know how difficult it is to get anything done unless the broad public understands what’s at stake and actively pushes for reform.

That’s why we need a movement for shared prosperity—a movement on a scale similar to the Progressive movement at the turn of the last century, which fueled the first progressive income tax and antitrust laws; the suffrage movement, which won women the vote; the labor movement, which helped animate the New Deal and fueled the great prosperity of the first three decades after World War II; the civil rights movement, which achieved the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts; and the environmental movement, which spawned the National Environmental Policy Act and other critical legislation.

Time and again, when the situation demands it, America has saved capitalism from its own excesses. We put ideology aside and do what’s necessary. No other nation is as fundamentally pragmatic. We will reverse the trend toward widening inequality eventually. We have no choice. But we must organize and mobilize in order that it be done.

[This essay appears in the current edition of “The Nation.”]

The Four Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Inequality

Even though French economist Thomas Piketty has made an air-tight case that we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the nineteenth-century robber barons, right-wing conservatives haven’t stopped lying about what’s happening and what to do about it.

Herewith, the four biggest right-wing lies about inequality, followed by the truth.

Lie number one: The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators. So we dare not tax them.

The truth is the middle class and poor are the job-creators through their purchases of goods and services. If they don’t have enough purchasing power because they’re not paid enough, companies won’t create more jobs and economy won’t grow.

We’ve endured the most anemic recovery on record because most Americans don’t have enough money to get the economy out of first gear. The economy is barely growing and real wages continue to drop.

We keep having false dawns. An average of 200,000 jobs were created in the United States over the last three months, but huge numbers of Americans continue to drop out of the labor force.

Lie number two: People are paid what they’re worth in the market. So we shouldn’t tamper with pay.

The facts contradict this. CEOs who got 30 times the pay of typical workers forty years ago now get 300 times their pay not because they’ve done such a great job but because they control their compensation committees and their stock options have ballooned.

Meanwhile, most American workers earn less today than they did forty years ago, adjusted for inflation, not because they’re working less hard now but because they don’t have strong unions bargaining for them.

More than a third of all workers in the private sector were unionized forty years ago; now, fewer than 7 percent belong to a union. 

Lie number three: Anyone can make it in America with enough guts, gumption, and intelligence. So we don’t need to do anything for poor and lower-middle class kids.

The truth is we do less than nothing for poor and lower-middle class  kids. Their schools don’t have enough teachers or staff, their textbooks are outdated, they lack science labs, their school buildings are falling apart.

We’re the only rich nation to spend less educating poor kids than we do educating kids from wealthy families. 

All told, 42 percent of children born to poor families will still be in poverty as adults – a higher percent than in any other advanced nation. 

Lie number four: Increasing the minimum wage will result in fewer jobs. So we shouldn’t raise it.

In fact, studies show that increases in the minimum wage put more money in the pockets of people who will spend it – resulting in more jobs, and counteracting any negative employment effects of an increase in the minimum. 

Three of my colleagues here at the University of California at Berkeley — Arindrajit Dube, T. William Lester, and Michael Reich – have compared adjacent counties and communities across the United States, some with higher minimum wages than others but similar in every other way.

They found no loss of jobs in those with the higher minimums.

The truth is, America’s lurch toward widening inequality can be reversed. But doing so will require bold political steps.

At the least, the rich must pay higher taxes in order to pay for better-quality education for kids from poor and middle-class families. Labor unions must be strengthened, especially in lower-wage occupations, in order to give workers the bargaining power they need to get better pay. And the minimum wage must be raised. 

Don’t listen to the right-wing lies about inequality. Know the truth, and act on it. 

The Pope Is Completely Wrong About Capitalism And Inequality

On Monday, the following message was posted on the Pope's official Twitter account: "Inequality is the root of social evil."  This follows on the heels of several other extremely harsh statements that he has made about capitalism over the past year.  The Pope appears to believe that inequality is one of the greatest evils that [...]

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Inequality, Productivity, and WhatsApp

If you ever wonder what’s fueling America’s staggering inequality, ponder Facebook’s acquisition of the mobile messaging company WhatsApp .

According to news reports today, Facebook has agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion.

That’s the highest price paid for a startup in history. It’s $3 billion more than Facebook raised when it was first listed, and more than twice what Microsoft paid for Skype.

(To be precise, $12 billion of the $19 billion will be in the form of shares in Facebook, $4 billion will be in cash, and $3 billion in restricted stock to WhatsApp staff, which will vest in four years.)

Given that gargantuan amount, you might think Whatsapp is a big company. You’d be wrong. It has 55 employees, including its two young founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton.

Whatsapp’s value doesn’t come from making anything. It doesn’t need a large organization to distribute its services or implement its strategy.

It value comes instead from two other things that require only a handful of people. First is its technology — a simple but powerful app that allows users to send and receive text, image, audio and video messages through the Internet.

The second is its network effect: The more people use it, the more other people want and need to use it in order to be connected. To that extent, it’s like Facebook — driven by connectivity.  

Whatsapp’s worldwide usage has more than doubled in the past nine months, to 450 million people — and it’s growing by around a million users every day. On December 31, 2013, it handled 54 billion messages (making its service more popular than Twitter, now valued at about $30 billion.)

How does it make money? The first year of usage is free. After that, customers pay a small fee. At the scale it’s already achieved, even a small fee generates big bucks. And if it gets into advertising it could reach more eyeballs than any other medium in history. It already has a database that could be mined in ways that reveal huge amounts of information about a significant percentage of the world’s population.

The winners here are truly big winners. WhatsApp’s fifty-five employees are now enormously rich. Its two founders are now billionaires. And the partners of the venture capital firm that financed it have also reaped a fortune.

And the rest of us? We’re winners in the sense that we have an even more efficient way to connect with each other.

But we’re not getting more jobs.

In the emerging economy, there’s no longer any correlation between the size of a customer base and the number of employees necessary to serve them. In fact, the combination of digital technologies with huge network effects is pushing the ratio of employees to customers to new lows (WhatsApp’s 55 employees are all its 450 million customers need).

Meanwhile, the ranks of postal workers, call-center operators, telephone installers, the people who lay and service miles of cable, and the millions of other communication workers, are dwindling — just as retail workers are succumbing to Amazon, office clerks and secretaries to Microsoft, and librarians and encyclopedia editors to Google.   

Productivity keeps growing, as do corporate profits. But jobs and wages are not growing. Unless we figure out how to bring all of them back into line – or spread the gains more widely – our economy cannot generate enough demand to sustain itself, and our society cannot maintain enough cohesion to keep us together.

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Getting Serious about Inequality


The tenacity of the Yankees... is a result of their theoretical backwardness and their Anglo-Saxon contempt for all theory. They are punished for this by a superstitious belief in every philosophical and economic absurdity, by religious sectarianism, and by idiotic economic experiments, out of which, however, certain bourgeois cliques profit.” Frederich Engels, letter to Sorge, London, January 6, 1892. Translation by Leonard E. Mins (1938)
One hundred and twenty-two years later, the Yankees remain bereft of theory while clinging to every outlandish scheme promising to curtail the appetite of an insatiable capitalist system. Churning on without interruption, capitalism generates greater and greater wealth for its masters while devouring everyone else in its wake. From regulatory reform to alternative life styles, from tax policies to cooperative endeavors, self-proclaimed opponents of this rapacious economic behemoth have announced newly contrived exits from its destructive path. While “...people [in the US] must become conscious of their own social interests by making blunder upon blunder...” as Engels put it in another letter to his US friend Frederich Sorge, the contented capitalists merrily continue profiting.
Engels' brutal indictment of the North American allergy to theory and the affinity for unfocussed activism was tempered by an optimism based more upon hope than reality: “The movement itself will go through many and disagreeable phases, disagreeable particularly for those who live in the country and have to suffer them. But I am firmly convinced that things are now going ahead over there... notwithstanding the fact that the Americans will learn almost exclusively in practice for the time being, and not so much from theory.”
That conviction may well seem misplaced today as many of those who claim opposition to capitalism continue to decry theory and invest instead in utopian schemes and isolate burning issues from a general critique of capitalism and its social policies.
Nothing illustrates the Engels' diagnosis more than the current public discussion of inequality and poverty. It is tempting to call the new-found interest a fad or fashion, since it seems to spring from nothing more than a sitting President's alarm. But the present-day rage to address economic inequality is far more cynical. With interim national elections on the horizon and a competitive Presidential race on its heels, Democratic Party leaders served notice on the lame-duck President that it is time again to rouse the Party base, the labor unions, the progressive single-issue organizations, internet lefties, and the deep-pockets social liberals. Hence, despite the fact that inequality and poverty are neither newly discovered nor newly arrived, the alarm goes up: inequality is with us! Poverty is on the rise!
It is true, of course. Only a few outliers would deny that income and wealth growth for most people in the US have been stagnant or declining since some time in the 1970s (Even right-wing ideologue, Representative Paul Ryan, concedes that there are 47 million US citizens living in poverty). Health care has been in crisis, with millions left without any significant health options and untold numbers dying prematurely. The education system, like the physical infrastructure, is underfunded and crumbling. Employment continues to decline as discouraged workers exit the labor market. In short, poverty, disease, declining living standards, crime-- all the attendant problems of social and political neglect-- continue unabated, increasing dramatically over the last forty years.
At the same time, a privileged minority has enjoyed increasing income and wealth, a sharp rise in that group's share of the economic pie. As the economy marched forward, the “fortunate few” marched forward as well, but at an ever accelerating pace.
Without Theory
Data, not stultifying political or ideological rhetoric, must drive our agenda.” So says rising Democratic Party superstar, Senator Cory Booker, in a newsprint debate with Republican policy icon, Representative Paul Ryan. Sponsored by The Wall Street Journal(A Half Century of the War on Poverty, 1-25/26-14) to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Lyndon Johnson-era “War on Poverty,” the two contestants demonstrate the futility of addressing poverty without a broad and deep understanding of its sources and its history-- the “how” and “why” of social theory. Representing the “respectable” Left in the US two-party political pantomime, Booker rehearses a host of liberal think tank palliatives based on education, job training, apprenticeships, de-criminalized drug use, and a bare-bones safety-net designed to shrink the number of those unlucky enough to fall below official government floors.
Solutions, for Booker, come through the tools of business and commerce: investments, cost-benefit analysis, returns on investment, cost savings etc. Rather than improving peoples' lives, the task of reducing poverty resembles an MBA project of this new generation of Democratic Party politician. He draws on suspect, often out-of-date correlations once found between education levels and future economic outcomes to sell education as a magic elixir. These long unexamined verities are now shaken by the absence of good paying jobs, the declining worth of higher degrees, and the enormous growth of student debt. Booker's feeble defense of the leaky safety-net that remains as a tarnished legacy of the New Deal and Johnson's anti-poverty legislation centers on food stamps and Medicaid, a formula to barely sustain life, but to not escape poverty. Add a dash of Moynihan-like sermon against single-motherhood and you have the anti-poverty program of the new generation of Democratic Party leaders-- truly a patchwork of “economic absurdity” worthy of Engels' contempt.
As for the Republicans, they argue for nothing, only against Democratic Party plans. Theirs is a simple contention: Forty-seven million US citizens remain in poverty. While the “War on Poverty” may have shifted the victims of poverty demographically, the poor are still with us and in great, stubborn numbers. For Representative Ryan, charity and moral suasion-- the remedies of two centuries ago-- are the only alternative to liberal interventionism and its failure.
Now liberals will recoil from these harsh conclusions. They can and will point to significant pockets of improvement, temporary declines in the poverty rate, or promising social experiments. But what they can neither explain nor address is the persistent reproduction of poverty by our economic system. For nearly forty years, measures of income and wealth inequality have grown, signally an inevitable increase in poverty. Even those ill-disposed to theory can surely see a relationship between growing inequality and increasing poverty.
Glaringly absent from Booker's program is any significant plan to redistribute income and wealth. We can attribute that absence to the near complete ownership of elected officials of both parties by the corporations and the wealthy. But on the periphery of mainstream politics, voices can be heard advocating measures both to grow the economy beyond mass impoverishment and/or to redistribute wealth through taxation.
The Krugmans, Reichs, and Stiglitzs and the like enjoy a measure of independence afforded by their academic tenure and widely celebrated intellectual stature, allowing them to somewhat sidestep fealty to corporate masters. As esteemed economists, they understand that the continued growth of inequality will ultimately bring harsh economic or social consequences. But their nostrums, like those of the political establishment, only treat the symptoms of a persistent malady that continually generates inequality, unemployment, and crises. A study of economic history demonstrates that bursts of economic growth and progressive taxation have indeed tempered, even slightly reversed inequality and the growth of poverty, but over time both return to their former trajectory.
A Dose of Theory
A new study by a French economist, Thomas Piketty, brings forward the view that the long-term tendency of capitalism is to produce and reproduce inequality. Though his book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, is not scheduled for release in the English language until March, it has already generated serious discussion across the spectrum of the US commentariat. New York Times columnist, Thomas B. Edsell, asserts that the book “suggests that traditional liberal government policies on spending, taxation and regulation will fail to diminish inequality.” (Capitalism vs. Democracy, 1-28-2014)
How can that be? The liberal and social democratic consensus cries out for government spending, progressive taxation, and corporate regulation as the answer to growing inequality. A gaggle of Nobel laureates embrace these tools, attesting that they are effective means to combat inequality. What does Piketty see that they do not? 
History.
Piketty is not afraid to study the history of inequality, a necessary condition for any proper socioeconomic theory. What he finds, according to Edsell, is that:
...the six-decade period of growing equality in western nations – starting roughly with the onset of World War I and extending into the early 1970s – was unique and highly unlikely to be repeated. That period, Piketty suggests, represented an exception to the more deeply rooted pattern of growing inequality.
According to Piketty, those halcyon six decades were the result of two world wars and the Great Depression.
In other words, growing inequality is the normal for capitalism and its shrinkage the aberration. Apologists would have us believe otherwise, that capitalism does not carry a gene for inequality. Unlike his Yankee counterparts, Piketty is willing to study the economy as a system-- capitalism-- and explore its historicaltrajectory. Both methodological dispositions give rise to a theory of inequality, an incomplete theory, but a theory no less.
Now Piketty and his frequent collaborator Emmanuel Saez are widely acknowledged to be among the leading experts documenting inequality world wide as well as in the US. Undoubtedly this gives a high plausibility to his core claim to identify a strong correlation between capitalism's typical course and the growth of inequality.
Of course students of Marxist theory or followers of this blog should not be surprised by Piketty's findings. For over a hundred and fifty years Marxists have maintained that inequality and impoverishment are necessary products of the capitalist system. That is, the logic of capitalism necessitates growing inequality. By locating profit at the heart of the capitalist organism, Marxists understand that wealth will invariably flow to the tiny minority of the owners of capital and away from the producers. It is this process of profit generation that overwhelms all barriers, all “reforms,” to channel society's resources to the capitalist class.
Piketty's argument is a welcome antidote to the paucity of explanatory theory presented by the liberal and social democratic punditry. The controversy stirred by Piketty's argument well before its English-language availability is a sure sign that he offers something beyond the conventional.
However, his interpretation of the long-term trajectory of capitalism, especially its departure from the norm, may be incomplete. He reportedly sees the time between 1914 and 1973-- a time when he claims that the growth of inequality was uncharacteristically retarded-- as a period when the after-tax rate of return on capital lagged behind economic growth. One could quibble that this is perhaps too simple and mechanical, the era was certainly one in which many factors worked to change the “normal” course of capitalism and often buffered the growth of inequality, together constituting a tendency.
But it would be a simplification to locate these factors entirely in economic or political events while overlooking policy. For example, throughout most of the twentieth century capitalism paid an anti-Soviet levy or rent to the working class as an inoculation against the threat of socialist or Communist ideology. That factor played no small part in moderating inequality, creating the mirage of working class equality, and ensuring labor peace.
Closer examination of Piketty's interesting thesis must await publication of the book.
For a Robust Theory of Inequality
We needn't wait for Piketty, however, to find an adequate theory of inequality. Elements of Karl Marx's theory of socioeconomic development offer the key to understanding the production and reproduction of inequality in our time as well as earlier times.
There are, of course, many possible causes for the concentration of wealth. Theft, good fortune, guile, dishonesty are only a few of the ways that humans have redistributed wealth since antiquity. Such causes occur often in history, but only haphazardly. The only systemiccause of inequality is the expropriation of the labor of one by another under the protection of social norms. Marx called this process exploitation. He was the first to identify its forms and its trajectory. He was the first to explain adequately the mechanisms of expropriation. Armed with Marx's theory of exploitation, the inequalities of slavery, feudalism, and, of course, capitalism are revealed with all their specific features. Thus, the concentration of wealth produced by expropriation of the labor of slaves, serfs, and employed workers is connected to unique socially protected forms of exploitation.
Exploitation explains how inequality arises and continues. Without recognition of this mechanism embedded in capitalist economic activity, liberals and social democrats cannot explain the persistence of inequality. They will apply inadequate reformist measures to stem the tide of wealth and income concentration springing from capitalist exploitation, but the tide will not be forestalled by reforms.
It cannot be overemphasized that inequality springs from a process, a process definitive of capitalist economic relations. Outside of the Marxist orbit, commentators view inequality as a state-of-affairs, a state-of-affairs existing between various social groupings. While they authentically decry the misery generated by inequality, they are at a lost to find the proper quantitative relationship between different groups constitutive of society. Sure, some have more than others, but what is the socially just distribution of society's goods? Granted that inequalities exist, what is the optimal way to assign shares of wealth? How much and for whom? Should everyone get an equal share? Should those on the bottom get a 10% larger share? 20%? These are the questions that perplex the non-Marxists.
The best answer from the best minds of Anglo-American social philosophy is a pretty nasty and unsatisfactory principle called Pareto efficiency. Rather than solving the inequality puzzle, Pareto efficiency justifies an unequal state-of-affairs provided that it does not diminish the well-being of others, including the least advantaged. Because of the theoretical intractability of settling on exactly what constitutes a just distribution of goods and services, modern bourgeois academic philosophers attempt to establish what would be the least objectionable, but unequal state-of-affairs. Nothing demonstrates the theoretical barrenness of Anglo-American social thought than this misguided, impossible task of determining distributive justice once and for all and for all times and places. There is no idealized state-of-affairs that could answer this question. The question itself is misguided.
Rather, in our time, the task of reducing inequality, of advancing distributive justice, is to eliminate exploitation. There can be no ideal, perfect solution to the inequality issue, but there is a way of eliminating the primary cause of indefensible inequality in a capitalist society: end labor exploitation.
Liberals and social democrats have no answer to the rightist challenge that workers today are immeasurably better off under capitalism than they were two hundred years ago. It is certainly true that most workers now live longer, are healthier, and have more free time than did their counterparts two centuries earlier. Marxist theory does not challenge that point. Instead, it asserts that the logic of the capitalist system tends to impoverish working people at all times. Whether capitalism succeeds in suppressing living standards is entirely a different matter. Other factors-- labor fight back, labor shortages, the cheapening of the means of subsistence, etc.-- may buffer, even overwhelm this tendency for a time, but the tendency never disappears.
The tendency towards impoverishment flows logically from the Marxist understanding that labor under capitalism is a commodity like any other commodity. Capitalists buy and sell the labor power of workers just as they do any other factor of production or distribution. And as with any other cost, they seek to pay the lowest possible price for it. Accordingly, the capitalist system, through the cost-cutting actions of individual capitalists (or corporations), is constantly pressuring the compensation of workers downward to levels of mere maintenance-- that is, poverty. The only systemic constraint upon that pressure is the necessity of securing labor in the future.
Therefore, we find in Marxism a basis for understanding (and addressing) inequality and poverty. Thanks to a theory that identifies the two closely related afflictions with specific historically evolved mechanisms and that connects their production and reproduction to economic systems, we can avoid the muddiness and ineffectiveness of the liberal and social democratic approaches. Both mystify the causes, offer a balm instead of a cure, and fail to halt the continuing reproduction of inequality and poverty. Like quacks and faith healers, liberals and social democrats may make the patient more comfortable, but only excising the cancer of capitalism will finally end the suffering.


Zoltan Zigedy




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Why Widening Inequality is Hobbling Equal Opportunity

Is it to be inequality or equal opportunity? 

Under a headline “Obama Moves to the Right in a Partisan War of Words,” The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes notes Democratic operatives have been hitting back hard against the President or any other Democratic politician talking about income inequality, preferring that the Democrats talk about equality of opportunity instead.

"However salient reducing inequality may be," writes Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, “it is demonstrably less important to voters than any other number of priorities, incudlng reducing poverty.”

The President may be listening. Wags noticed that in his State of the Union, Obama spoke ten times of increasing “opportunity” and only twice of income inequality, while in a December speech he spoke of income inequality two dozen times. 

But the President and other Democrats — and even Republicans, for that matter — should focus on the facts, not the polls, and not try to dress up what’s been happening with more soothing words and phrases. 

In fact, America’s savage inequality is the main reason equal opportunity is fading and poverty is growing. Since the “recovery” began, 95% of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, and median incomes have dropped. This is a continuation of the trend we’ve seen for decades. As a result:

(1) The sinking middle class no longer has enough purchasing power to keep the economy growing and creating sufficient jobs. The share of working-age Americans still in the labor force is the lowest in more than thirty years. 

(2) The shrinking middle isn’t generating enough tax revenue for adequate education, training, safety nets, and family services. And when they’re barely holding on, they can’t afford to — and don’t want to — pay more.

(3) Meanwhile, America’s rich are accumulating not just more of the country’s total income and wealth, but also the political power that accompanies money. And they’re using that power to reduce their own taxes, and get corporate welfare (subsidies, bailouts, tax cuts) for their businesses.

All this means less equality of opportunity in America. 

Obama was correct in December when he called widening inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” He mustn’t back down now even if Democratic pollsters tell him to. If we’re ever to reverse this noxious trend, Americans have to hear the truth. 

Unprecedented Inequality Under Obama

Unprecedented Inequality under Obama

by Stephen Lendman

It's unprecedented in modern memory. Obama declared war on social America. He's gone all out to destroy it altogether. More on this below.

On Tuesday, he'll deliver his annual State of the Union address. Expect empty promises. Expect duplicitous rhetoric. 

Expect beginning-to-end demagogic boilerplate. Expect a litany of lies. Expect pledges without follow-through.

Expect business as usual to continue. Expect deepening poverty, unemployment, underemployment, homelessness, human suffering and deprivation. 

Expect continued force-fed austerity. Expect popular needs more than ever going begging. Expect social inequality increasing. Expect a widening wealth gap.

Obama aids lied. They said he's got a "year of action" in mind. He'll address inequality, they claim. 

The same way he benefitted Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites and super-rich elites throughout five years in office.

The same way he plans more of the same ahead. The same way he treats ordinary people callously. The same way he's mindless of human suffering.

The same way he force-feeds austerity. The same way he wants Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid handed to Wall Street crooks for exploitation and profit.

The same way he's waging war on humanity. The same way he broke every major promise made. 

Clinton administration speechwriter Jeff Shesol said:

"This presidency is not going to be defined from here forward by big legislative initiatives." He's a lame duck. Republicans control the House. Perhaps the Senate after November 2014 elections.

Obama has three years left in office, said Shesol. "I think people will want to get the sense that he knows how to operate in this environment and that there is a strategy."

It''s same old, same old. It's benefitting corporate giants and super-rich elites. It's doing it at the expense of all others. It's saying one thing. It's doing other.

It's continuing what he began on day one in office. Never perhaps in US history has a president more betrayed his faithful. 

Never have so few benefitted at the expense of so many. Presidential advisor Dan Pfeiffer lied saying his State of the Union address will offer "opportunity, action and optimism."

He'll promise "a set of real, concrete, practical proposals." He'll pledge policies for strengthening economic growth and jobs, Pfeiffer claims.

He's done it throughout his tenure. His economic stimulus plan is  corporate tax cuts. More of them. They're planned. They're coming. 

It's benefitting super-rich elites at the expense of all others. Obama's legacy is written in stone. It's unequivocal. It's not kind.

He'll be remembered as a president who said one thing, did another, and claimed otherwise. Inequality became unprecedented on his watch.

He let it fester. He let it grow. He did nothing to address it. His policies made things worse. He plans more of the same going forward.

On Tuesday night he'll lie claiming otherwise. He's a serial liar. Nothing he say has credibility. Nothing can believed. He's a con man writ large.

Monied interests own him. He serves at their pleasure. He enriched them more than ever. He's got lots of explaining to do. Expect no credible answers.

ObamaSpeak will substitute. His presidency is an unmitigated disaster. Rhetoric can't erase enormous harm done.

His anti-inequality campaign rings hollow. It's duplicitous. It's fake. Straightaway in office, he prioritized cutting vitally needed healthcare benefits. 

He targeted Medicare. He called doing it restoring fiscal discipline. He lied claiming it's going broke. He said the same thing about Social Security.

When properly administered, both programs are sustainable longterm. Modest adjustments only are needed. 

Universal healthcare (Medicare for all) would assure sustainability in perpetuity. Social Security was designed to be self-sustaining.

Its revenues are misused. They subsidize corporate handouts. They benefit Wall Street crooks. They finance warmaking. They enrich wealthy elites more than already.

Obama's war on social America plans eliminating vital benefits altogether. Doing so assures greater inequality.

He lies claiming otherwise. He's in lockstep with Republicans and most Democrats. He mandates austerity when stimulus is needed.

His agenda is anti-progressive. He's a reliable corporate tool. He serves powerful monied interests. He ignores popular ones. He harms America's most disadvantaged.

He's done so throughout his tenure. He's thirdworldizing America. Poverty, unemployment, inequality and deprivation are growth industries.

Growing millions struggle to get by. Help when it's most needed is denied. Social inequality is deplorable. It defines today's America. 

It's institutionalized. It's unprecedented. It's worsening. America’s 1% has more wealth than the bottom 95%. 

Income inequality is greater than in all other developed countries. Over three-fourths of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck.

Neoliberal harshness is policy. Bipartisan complicity force-feeds it. It's institutionalized when vital aid is needed. Doing so wages financial war on millions. 

Obama exceeds the worst of George Bush. He's harming people most in need. According to Economics Professor J. Bradford Delong:

"(T)here is nothing on the horizon that would return the US economy (even near) its growth path before the 2008 financial crisis erupted."

Underperformance is the new normal. Ordinary people suffer most. 

"(I)f we combine the costs of idle workers and capital during the downturn and the harm done to the US economy's future growth path, the losses reach 3.5 - 10 years of total output."

"That is a higher share of America's productive capabilities than the Great Depression subtracted - and the US economy is 16 times larger than (in) 1928 (5.5 times larger in per capital terms)."

Nothing in prospect suggests change. Future historians won't treat Obama kindly. They won't "regard the Great Depression as the worst business-cycle disaster of the industrial age," said Delong.

"It is we who are living in" the worst of times. And given America's direction, expect hard times ahead getting harder. Expect catastrophic disaster for growing millions.

Expect America looking like Guatemala. Expect police state harshness targeting resisters.

Obama's phony campaign to change things is duplicitous. Expect more promises Tuesday night. Expect business as usual to follow.

America's race to the bottom continues. Expect nothing substantive done to change things.

In December, Obama called income inequality the "defining challenge of our time." 

"(T)he combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe."

He'll lie Tuesday night pledging change. In December, he said "over the course of the next year and for the rest of my presidency, (he'll) focus all our efforts" on fighting inequality.

Hypocrisy substitutes for policy. He spent five years waging war on fairness. Expect nothing different going forward. 

Expect business as usual to continue. Anti-populism remains official administration policy. It has bipartisan support.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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David Brooks’ Utter Ignorance About Inequality

Occasionally David Brooks, who personifies the oxymoron “conservative thinker” better than anyone I know, displays such profound ignorance that a rejoinder is necessary lest his illogic permanently pollute public debate. Such is the case with his New York Times column last Friday, arguing that we should be focusing on the “interrelated social problems of the poor” rather than on inequality, and that the two are fundamentally distinct.

Baloney.

First, when almost all the gains from growth go to the top, as they have for the last thirty years, the middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power necessary for buoyant growth.

Once the middle class has exhausted all its coping mechanisms – wives and mothers surging into paid work (as they did in the 1970s and 1980s), longer working hours (which characterized the 1990s), and deep indebtedness (2002 to 2008) – the inevitable result is fewer jobs and slow growth, as we continue to experience.

Few jobs and slow growth hit the poor especially hard because they’re the first to be fired, last to be hired, and most likely to bear the brunt of declining wages and benefits.

Second, when the middle class is stressed, it has a harder time being generous to those in need. The “interrelated social problems” of the poor presumably will require some money, but the fiscal cupboard is bare. And because the middle class is so financially insecure, it doesn’t want to, nor does it feel it can afford to, pay more in taxes.

Third, America’s shrinking middle class also hobbles upward mobility. Not only is there less money for good schools, job training, and social services, but the poor face a more difficult challenge moving upward because the income ladder is far longer than it used to be, and its middle rungs have disappeared.

Brooks also argues that we should not be talking about unequal political power, because such utterances cause divisiveness and make it harder to reach political consensus over what to do for the poor.

Hogwash. The concentration of power at the top — which flows largely from the concentration of income and wealth there — has prevented  Washington from dealing with the problems of the poor and the middle class.

To the contrary, as wealth has accumulated at the top, Washington has reduced taxes on the wealthy, expanded tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit the rich, deregulated Wall Street, and provided ever larger subsidies, bailouts, and tax breaks for large corporations. The only things that have trickled down to the middle and poor besides fewer jobs and smaller paychecks are public services that are increasingly inadequate because they’re starved for money.

Unequal political power is the endgame of widening inequality — its most noxious and nefarious consequence, and the most fundamental threat to our democracy. Big money has now all but engulfed Washington and many state capitals — drowning out the voices of average Americans, filling the campaign chests of candidates who will do their bidding, financing attacks on organized labor, and bankrolling a vast empire of right-wing think-tanks and publicists that fill the airwaves with half-truths and distortions.

That David Brooks, among the most thoughtful of all conservative pundits, doesn’t see or acknowledge any of this is a sign of how far the right has moved away from the reality most Americans live in every day. 

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The U.S. economy created a measly 74,000 new jobs in December, and a smaller percentage of working-age Americans is now employed than at any time in the last three decades (before women surged into the workforce).

What does this have to do with the fact that median household incomes continue to drop (adjusted for inflation) and that 95 percent of all the economic gains since the recovery started have gone to the top 1 percent? 

Plenty. Businesses won’t create new jobs without enough customers. But most Americans no longer have enough purchasing power to fuel that job growth. 

That’s why it’s so important to (1) raise the minimum wage at least to its inflation-adjusted value 40 years ago — which would be well over $10 an hour, (2) extend unemployment benefits to the jobless, (3) launch a major jobs program to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, (4) expand Medicaid to the near-poor, (5) enable low-wage workers to unionize, (6) rehire all the teachers, social workers, police, and other public service employees who were laid off in the recession, (7) exempt the first $20,000 of income from Social Security payroll taxes and make up the difference by removing the cap on income subject to the tax.

And because the rich spend a far smaller proportion of their earnings than the middle class and poor, pay for much of this by (8) closing tax loopholes that benefit the rich such as the “carried interest” tax benefit for hedge-fund and private-equity managers, (9) raise the highest marginal tax rate, and (10) impose a small tax on all financial transactions. 

One of the major political parties adamantly refuses to do any of this, and the other doesn’t have the strength or backbone to make them.

Make a ruckus. 

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Pragmatists, Ideologues, and Inequality in America

How will the 2016 election be framed? What will be America’s choice?

If the coverage of last week’s two big winners offers a guide, the choice will be between “pragmatism” and “ideology.”

The Washington Post called Chris Christie’s huge gubernatorial victory a “clear signal in favor of pragmatic, as opposed to ideological, governance.” 

But the mainstream media used a different adjective to describe Bill de Blasio, last week’s other landslide victor. The New York Times, for example, wrote of “the rise of the left-leaning Mr. de Blasio.”

Again and again, Christie is described as the pragmatist; De Blasio, the lefty. 

But these appellations ignore what’s happening to an America in which almost all the economic gains are going to the richest 1 percent, median household incomes continues to drop, and the number of Americans in poverty continues to rise.

Given America’s surging inequality, the pragmatist is De Blasio, who proposes to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to fund pre-school and after-school programs for the children of the poor and hard-pressed middle class.

The cost of child care is taking a huge bite out of the paychecks of many working parents, some of whom have been forced to leave their kids alone at home or rely on overburdened neighbors and relatives. A small surcharge on the incomes of the super-rich to pay for well-supervised child care is a practical and long-overdue response.

Meanwhile, the real ideologue is Christie, who vetoed an increase in the minimum wage in New Jersey. The current minimum of $7.25 is far lower than it was three decades ago in terms of purchasing power, and the typical minimum-wage worker is no longer a teenager but a major breadwinner for his or her family. 

Apparently Christie isn’t aware that many employers – including Walmart, the largest employer in America – don’t pay their employees enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Which means the rest of us end up subsidizing these employers indirectly by devoting our tax dollars to Medicaid, food stamps, housing, and other assistance needed to make up for the lousy wages.

In fact, New Jersey voters found a way to circumvent Christie’s ideological opposition to a raise in the minimum wage. They approved an amendment to the state constitution that raises the minimum to $8.25 (still too low) and subsequently indexes it to inflation. 

The so-called “pragmatic” Christie also frowns on gay marriage and abortion rights, which puts him in the company of many Tea Partiers. But because Christie himself isn’t a Tea Partier, and had the temerity to be seen in the friendly company of President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, he appears pragmatic in comparison to them.

The media is casting Christie as the pragmatist and De Blasio as the ideologue because of what’s happened to their respective parties. 

The civil war that’s engulfed the Republican Party – pitting the Tea Party against the establishment GOP – is an admitted headache for Republicans focused on the 2016 presidential contest. For them, the size of Christie’s win is a huge relief.

The Democratic Party, by contrast, has been the very model of civility. Establishment Democrats, mostly funded by big business and Wall Street, have dominated ever since Bill Clinton “triangulated” and moved the Party rightward.

Progressive Democrats and organized labor – those who the late Paul Wellstone described as the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” — have been remarkably tractable. Although they forced Obama to pull the nomination of Larry Summers, they’ve been all but ignored on the big stuff having to do with widening inequality. 

When progressives wanted Wall Street banks to reduce the mortgages of underwater homeowners as a condition for getting bailed out, the White House and most congressional Democrats turned a deaf ear. 

Progressives also pushed to go over the fiscal cliff and end the Bush tax cuts, sought a “public option” for health insurance, wanted an Employee Free Choice Act that would make it easier to form unions, tried to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act as part of financial regulation, objected to the President’s proposed “chain-weighted CPI” for Social Security and cuts in Social Security.

On all these they got nowhere. Yet progressives in the Democratic Party took their lumps without declaring civil war.

Had the President and congressional Democrats reflected the Party’s historic roots and risen to the challenge of widening inequality, De Blasio’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to finance better schools wouldn’t appear conspicuous or even ideological. It would be another pragmatic attempt to deal with the nation’s challenge of reversing the scourge of inequality.

In other words, Christie appears pragmatic and De Blasio ideological only in comparison with their own parties.

But in terms of where America is and what it needs, now and in the foreseeable future, these two labels should be reversed.

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Bye, Bye American Dream! U.S. Economic Inequality Is Permanent, Study Finds

Analysis of two decades of income tax trends also find the rich consume more.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

March 22, 2013  |  

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A new study by a team of economists in academia and the government has concluded that economic inequality is a permanent—not temporary—feature in the United States, based on an analysis of 350,000 federal income tax returns between 1987 and 2009.

“For household income, both before and after taxes, the increase in inequality over this period was predominantly, although not entirely, permanent,” the highly technical report concluded. “We also find evidence that the U.S. federal tax system helped reduce the increase in household income inequality; but this attenuating effect was insufficient to significantly alter the broad trend toward rising inequality.”

The study by economists at two state universities, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department, also found, not surprisingly, that the wealthiest Americans consume more than less well-off people, and that disparity causes poorer Americans to suffer as a result.

“Our findings, along with economic theory, suggest that the increase in income inequality observed in roughly the last two decades should translate into increases in consumption inequality, and is therefore likely to be welfare-reducing, at least according to most social welfare functions,” the report said. “Although measurement problems with household consumption data in the U.S. have made it difficult to convincingly measure the degree of the increase in consumption inequality, some recent studies… suggest that the increase in consumption inequality was indeed substantial.”

Simply put, the study confirms what Vermont's U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders has been saying for years, “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.”

“The takeaway here is rough,” the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote in his Wonkblog column. “The reason the permanent/transitory distinction matters is that lifetime earnings are much more important than a single year’s earnings. It’s lifetime earnings that decide how you live in general, what sort of house you can afford, whether you can send a kid to college, whether you can retire comfortably.”

Better-off Americans often opine that those below them on the economic ladder should just work a little harder. But this study suggests that there are irreconcilable gaps in income, lifetime wealth, consumption and the resulting health between the haves and have-nots in America. It also suggests progressive taxation can buffer those inequalities a bit, but not make up for the gaps.

It will be curious to see if this study will be cited in Washington’s ongoing debate about 'reforming' entitlement programs—namely Medicare and Social Security. It suggests, if anything, that growing slices of American society are heading to less financially secure futures, especially in old age. That means federal safety nets are more needed than ever—despite the GOP’s ideological crusade to cut spending on them.

Steven Rosenfeld covers democracy issues for AlterNet and is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).

Inequality Is Hurting Us All

Inequality hurts us all.

Imagine if you could go back 45 years to 1968. That year, after three decades of creative policy from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal through President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, the United States was one of the world’s most equal nations.Picturing Economic Growth (OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib)

Now imagine that instead of falling into the extreme inequality of today, the United States had stayed at the levels of greater equality of that era. What would be the benefits?

There would be a lot of them. This is the finding of a new study, “Closing the Inequality Divide,” that my organization, the Institute for Policy Studies, recently released with the Center for Sustainable Economy.

Our report looks at the world from the vantage point of the poorest fifth of people in my relatively affluent state of Maryland. Today, on average, the poorest fifth of the state earns about $15,000 a year. Maryland ranks among the country’s top-five states in terms of per-capita income. Yet many Marylanders work hard to earn the minimum wage, which remains painfully low at $7.25/hour, barely enough for them and their families to scrape by.

Consider this: If the levels of greater income equality of 1968 still prevailed today, that same poorest fifth of Marylanders would be earning twice what they take home now. Imagine the differences. They’d be able to purchase more goods and services, which would generate more jobs and income throughout the state.

We’d also be a lot healthier. We’d suffer less crime. Fewer of us would be injured and killed in car crashes. We’d suffer fewer divorces. We’d get the benefits of more education. Since a higher percentage of African-Americans and Latinos are poorer than whites, greater income equality would also reduce race inequality.

How do my colleagues and I who wrote this report know all of this? Well, thanks to a bold move by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2009, that state now collects information on 26 measures of social, environmental, and economic well-being known as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). In addition to measuring inequality, each year employees of the Maryland government are charting critical things such as the costs of pollution and crime, as well as the value of volunteer work and higher education.

In other words, measure what you treasure.

The idea is that these broader measures of well-being offer a better sense of how a state and its people are doing than the traditional economic measure of gross domestic product (GDP). That traditional measure only counts the increase in production of goods and services and doesn’t distinguish between the growth of “bad” things — like cancer or polluting industries — versus “good” things — like wind energy and sustainable farming.

Are there steps we can take to move in the direction of the greater equality we enjoyed a couple of generations ago?

Yes. Our research points to the good work of a wide range of Maryland organizations that have practical ideas on how to reduce inequality. A broad coalition has come together to raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.00 an hour by 2015, with an increase for restaurant workers and others who make tips as well. This state-level momentum is strengthening the efforts to pass a national bill introduced by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 across the country.

President Barack Obama backed an increase in his February State of the Union address, and polls show strong public support. In early March, a Gallup poll showed 71 percent of Americans supporting an increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour, the level Obama recommended.

We know how to make both Maryland and this country more equal, in part because we’ve done it before, from the 1930s to the 1960s. And we would all benefit from this shift.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

John Cavanagh

John Cavanagh is the director of the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank celebrating its 50th year.

Inequality soaring in Britain: report

The gap between the very rich and the less fortunate in Britain has risen sharply since the 1990s, a study has found.

Analysis by the Resolution Foundation think tank shows that the top earners in Britain now take home 10 percent of every pound earned in the country that is a three percent growth in 15 years while the bottom half of earners’ have seen their share fall from 19 percent to 18 percent over the period.

"The growing gap in incomes is pronounced when you look at the top 10th of households, and overwhelming when you consider the position of the top 1%. The rest of society hasn't kept up. It's the squeezed majority, not just the squeezed middle,” Mathew Whittaker, a senior economist at the thinktank, said.

This comes as dealing with the gap between the rich and poor has turned into a deteriorating political issue.

Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for a policy of "pre-distribution" to try to narrow the gap between the best and worst paid, while others from across the political spectrum, including the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, have praised the idea of employers promising to pay the Living Wage, which is currently £8.55 an hour in London, and £7.45 elsewhere.

The Resolution Foundation’s report, dubbed Squeezed Britain 2013, also highlights the misery of middle-earners as many of them have seen their incomes decline, due to high inflation and weak bargaining power in the workplace.

BGH/AMR/HE

UK inequality rises sharply in 15 years – report

AFP Photo / Bertrand Guay

AFP Photo / Bertrand Guay

The UK’s super-rich, the top 1% of earners, now pocket 10 pence in every pound, while the bottom half have seen their share of the nation’s wealth drop in the last 15 years. Middle earners have also seen their earning power stagnate.

Inequality in the UK has increased sharply in the last decade and a half, according to a study by the think tank, the Resolution Foundation, ‘Squeezed Britain 2013’, which is to be published next week.

According to Resolution’s analysis the top 1% on earners have seen their share of the nation’s wealth jump from 7% in the mid-1990s to 10% today, meaning that the top 1% of earners now pocket 10p in every pound of income paid in Britain. The bottom 50% have seen their share of the pie drop from 19% to 18%, it was reported in the Observer.

Although there was a slight reduction in top earning between 2009 and 2011, the research concludes this is most likely because the highest paid employees have brought their earnings forward to benefit from reduced income tax rates, which come into force this April. The Chancellor, George Osborne, is lowering the top tax rate for all earnings over £150,000 from 50p to 45p.

Resolution’s analysis shows the polarization of the UK labor market, between the top earners vast salaries and stagnant wages for many at the bottom and in the middle of the pile. However, the study did not take into account the impacts of benefits, like housing benefit, or tax credits, which top up incomes of the very poor.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a statement last Wednesday warning of the dangers of increasing inequality in its annual health check of the UK economy.

“Labor market conditions are widening the income gap between fulltime employees and an increasing share of the workforce on part-time, insecure and low-wage jobs. This comes in a context where income inequality was already high and rising before the recession,” the statement said.

The gap between rich and poor is becoming a major political issue in Britain. Labour leader, Ed Miliband, wants to introduce a policy of ‘pre-distribution’ to try and narrow the gap between the best and worst paid.

The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, as well as various politicians from across the political spectrum, have praised the idea of the Living Wage, £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 elsewhere. The Living Wage is not legally enforceable unlike the National Minimum Wage, which is significantly less, at £6.19 an hour. Ed Miliband has said he is in favor of making the Living Wage a legal requirement in his party’s manifesto for the next election.

While, Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, is pushing for a ‘mansion tax’ on all homes worth over £2 million.

‘Squeezed Britain’ focuses on the fortunes of the UK’s hard pressed middle earners, many of whom have seen their incomes stagnate over the past decade as a result of inflation and their reduced bargaining power in the work place, due partly to the shrinking in power of trade unions.

“The growing gap in incomes is pronounced when you look at the top 10th of households, and overwhelming when you consider the position of the top 1%. The rest of society hasn’t kept up. It’s the squeezed majority not just the squeezed middle,” Matthew Whittaker, senior economist at Resolution, told the Observer.

Inequality Rages as Dwindling Wages Lock Millions in Poverty

The official unemployment rate in the US may be slowly ticking down, but the rank of those who classify as 'the working poor' has continued to skyrocket, according to a new report.

A server waits on customers. Hit hardest by the trend of stagnant wages are those in service industries, like retail jobs, food preparation, clerical work and customer assistance. (Jeff Adkins/For the Chicago Tribune) Along with overall income inequality growth in the US, a new report by Working Poor Families Project says that over 200,000 families fell into poverty in 2011 even with both parents working. 

National job growth saw a recovery from the worst days following the 2008 housing crash and subsequent financial crisis, but even as the recession ebbed in some areas or for some groups, many middle class or lower-middle class workers who returned to employment did so with much reduced wages.

As lead author of the report, Brandon Roberts, points out in an op-ed at Reuters on Tuesday:

These are not just the unemployed. Rather they are families that, despite having a working adult in the home, earn less than twice the federal poverty income threshold – a widely recognized measure of family self-sufficiency. They are working, but making too little to build economically secure lives. And their number has grown steadily over the past five years.

They are cashiers and clerks, nursing assistants and lab technicians, truck drivers and waiters. Either they are unable to find good, full-time jobs, or their incomes are inadequate and their prospects for advancement are poor.

The report, which analyzed figures from the US Census in 2011, determined that nearly 10.4 million such families - or 47.5 million Americans - now live near poverty, defined as earning less than $45,622 for a family of four.

Data showed that the top 20 percent of Americans received 48 percent of all income while those in the bottom 20 percent got less than 5 percent.

Statistics also showed that roughly 23.5 million, or 37 percent, of U.S. children lived in working poor families compared with about 21 million, or 33 percent, in 2007, the report said.

"Although many people are returning to work, they are often taking jobs with lower wages and less job security, compared with the middle-class jobs they held before the economic downturn," the report said. "This means that nearly a third of all working families ... may not have enough money to meet basic needs."

“We’re not on a good trajectory,” Brandon Roberts, who manages the privately-funded Working Poor Families Project, told The Washington Post. “The overall number of low-income working families is increasing despite the recovery.”

And Reuters reports:

The group's analysis adds to the body of data focused on the slipping U.S. middle class even as there are signs of the nation's economy slowly coming back to life with improvements in the housing sector and lower unemployment rate.

For some Americans, the comeback has yet to begin.

Data showed that the top 20 percent of Americans received 48 percent of all income while those in the bottom 20 percent got less than 5 percent, the report said.

The analysis also found regional differences.

States in the South, such as Georgia and South Carolina, and those in the West, such as Arizona and Nevada, had the greatest increase in the number of working poor. The increase was slower in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

"It's important to draw attention to the fact that there are real families behind those statistics," said Alan Essig, who heads the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, adding that his state is still struggling with housing and unemployment.

And the Washington Post adds:

The growth in the ranks of the working poor coincides with continued growth in income inequality. Many of the occupations experiencing the fastest job growth during the recovery also pay poorly. Among them are retail jobs, food preparation, clerical work and customer assistance.

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Black widows of Yemen: Inequality sparks spate of husband killings

Most of the 50 Yemeni women accused of murder in 2012 were arrested for killing their husbands, the country’s ministry of interior has announced. The killings are deemed by many a desperate reaction to rampant gender inequality in the country.

The women were between the ages of 25-50 and had mostly carried out the crime with the aid of male relatives, a report released by the Yemeni Interior Ministry’s Information Security Center revealed.

Domestic violence, marriage inequality, jealousy, a sense of inferiority and economic pressures were cited as the primary motives. Most of the men were shot, poisoned, or beaten to death.

The most infamous crime of this nature occurred in August in a village in the province of Marib, where a 40-year-old woman killed her husband and two sons following a domestic dispute, Dr. Mujib Abdul Bari, a specialist in psychiatric and neurological disorders, told AlArabiya.net.

Bari said statistics relating to such crimes should be published to help facilitate public service campaigns which would help empower women in the country.

“In case women have taken a wrong decision in marriage, they should resort to legal solutions, such as divorce or going back to their families [who can] help them on a psychological level,” he continued.

Despite the recent spike in violence committed by wives in 2012, nearly two times as many women were victims of attempted murder during the same period.

Following the 1994 Yemeni Civil War, gender inequality has drastically increased in the country.

In 1999, the minimum marriage age of 15 was scrapped.  Subsequent attempts  a decade later to introduce legislation requiring women to be 17-years or older, were halted by conservative parliamentarians, Rebecca Murray from IPS news agency reports.

United Nations figures compiled in 2004 show 17.2% of girls aged 15-19 were either married, divorced or widowed.

While sexual intercourse with girls who have not reached puberty is illegal under article 15 of the country’s Personal Status Law, Human Rights Watch has documented cases where pre-pubescent girls have been subjected to marital rape.

In Yemen, there are currently no laws on the books against  marital rape. For those women trapped in abusive marriages, divorce laws reflect the extent of gender inequality in the country. While a husband can divorce his wife by simply repudiating her three times, a woman can only ask for a divorce under certain conditions- for example, if her husband fails to provide for the family financially even if he is capable of doing so. If a woman hopes to divorce for other reasons, she must file for a no-fault divorce which requires that she pay back her dowry.

Custody of children is highly biased towards husbands, as men are considered the natural guardians of children, while women are viewed as physical custodians but have no legal rights.

Rebecca Murray says domestic violence, health complications, a lack of education and career opportunities are often directly connected to early or forced marriages.

She also cites Yemen’s penal code as being heavily biased in favor of men who commit “honor killings,” with husbands who murder allegedly adulterous wives receiving a one-year maximum prison sentence, or even a fine.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index in 2012, ranked Yemen’s gender disparities last in economic, political, education and health criteria.

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By Rosemary Mason and Colin Todhunter Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written an open letter to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Director of Risk...

Forget Trump's "Law and Order," Agenda Offers Solutions for Making Policing Safe—and Fair

As President Donald Trump was vowing to "restore law and order," long understood to mean heightened police activity and mass incarceration, advocates of criminal...

Mosul, Thomas Friedman, and the Globalization of Misery

The closest I ever got to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was 1,720.7 miles away -- or so the Internet assures me.  Although I’ve...

If Washington Won’t Rein in Corporate Greed, Your State Might

Josh Elliott is fed up with overpaid CEOs. As the owner of a Connecticut natural foods market with 40 employees, he says he could...

Police Shootings, Neoliberal Scarcity Regimes and the Left: Behind the Balch Springs, Texas Murder

The Problem of Decentralization as Scarcity Every few weeks, when I study The New York Times, I read about another police shooting of some innocent citizen–killed...

Poor can expect to die 20 years before rich in rural US ‒ study

The difference in life expectancy between rich and poor in the US has grown far larger...

France’s Answer To Trumpism: Non, Merci

Before you go to sleep Sunday you will have learned a new name, the name at least six or seven of your fellow-Americans already...

Beating Wall Street Means Fighting the Extraction of Wealth From Communities of Color

Saqib Bhatti protests outside the Hyatt Recency in Chicago in June 2011. (Photo: Courtesy of Saqib Bhatti) Since election night 2016, the streets of the...

The Duplicitous U.S. Constitution

Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against...

In OtherWords: May 3, 2017

This week in OtherWords, Josh Hoxie looks beyond the headlines at the myths behind inequality in our country. Is it because some people just...

Fighting An Unfair System

The gap between the rich and poor has been growing for decades. Some claim this growing gap is the natural result of smart, hard...

Opposing Trump's "Moral Chaos," People's Budget Offers Roadmap for Resistance

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on Tuesday unveiled its "People's Budget," offering a vision of economic equality and fairness that comes in sharp contrast...

Britain Must Break Free from the Agrochemical Cartel: Rosemary Mason Calls on ECP to...

Agrochemical manufacturers are knowingly poisoning people and the environment in the name of profit and greed. Communities, countries, ecosystems and species have become disposable...

Striking for Sanctuary and Protection: A May Day Dispatch From the Cosecha Movement

Protesters take part in an action at the Suffolk County corrections facility in Boston on April 24, 2017. (Credit: Cosecha) Since election night 2016, the...
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Video: Democrats Must Take on Corporate Power If they Want to Win

In part two, Mike Elk says a winning strategy for Democrats must elevate the to improve income inequality and working conditions, and discusses his...

Rural Consciousness and Democratic Politics

The loss of the so-called flyover states was the key—and very surprising—factor in Hillary Clinton's loss of last year's presidential election. Some pundits attributed...

Rodney King verdict at 25: How iconic video laid bare police brutality & lit...

The brutal assault video of Rodney King, who found himself battered during a vicious act of...

It’s Time for a National $15 Minimum Wage

In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a basic principle of American economic life should be that if you work 40...
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Video: Trump’s Tax Plan & Push To End Net Neutrality Are An “All Out...

http://democracynow.org - As President Trump marks his first 100 day in office, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) argues many of his plans have increased inequality. Via...

David Ignatius’ 15 Years of Running Spin for Saudi Regime

David Ignatius on Saudi Arabia: “Reform plans appear to be moving ahead slowly but steadily”–as always. Last week, in “A Young Prince Is Reimagining Saudi...

‘1 Percent of Taxpayers Receive More Than the Bottom 80 Percent’

Janine Jackson interviewed Jeremie Greer about the tax code and inequality for the April 21, 20117, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited...

Jeremy Corbyn Is Britain’s Best Hope

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has suggested the UK could join US military action against the Syrian government without parliamentary approval. Johnson said he and PM...

Clean Water Is a Basic Human Right, and We Can and Should Make It...

Ask someone in Flint, Michigan, or São Paolo, Brazil -- the list of cities rocked by water disasters seems to grow each day --...

#WhyIMarch: Naomi Klein on 'Sacred Duty' of Participating in #ClimateMarch

Author and activist Naomi Klein on Tuesday released a video explaining why she is taking part in the global Peoples Climate March on Saturday,...

‘Many Banks Are Problematic, but Wells Fargo Is the Worst’

Janine Jackson interviewed Saqib Bhatti about Wells Fargo for the April 21, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Saqib Bhatti: “When...

Farmers could turn to robots to make up shortage of human workers after Brexit

A new generation of robots is being readied to fill a labor shortage on Britain’s...

American Dream in Freefall: It's This Bad

Whither the American Dream? It may not be totally dead, but a new study suggests that it is certainly on life support. Published in the American...

Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?

In recent weeks, the people of the world have been treated to yet another display of the kind of nuclear insanity that has broken...

Earth Day Should Be Called "People of Earth" Day

You might think of the rainforest or the endangered polar bear on this day, but Earth Day is a commemoration with decidedly American roots,...

‘If We Don’t Change the Mission of Police, Reforms Will Not Work’

Janine Jackson interviewed Alex Vitale about de-policing for the April 14, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Alex Vitale: “Police legitimacy…is...

US regressing into a developing nation for most people, MIT professor warns

Growing income inequality is turning the US into a dual economy, with one economy for the...

So Much for "Draining the Swamp": Wall Street's Power Soars Under Trump

Members of New York Communities for Change (NYCC) and other groups protest outside of Goldman Sachs in New York City on April 18, 2017....

An American Uprising: Assessing Opportunities for Progressive Political Change

We live in a time of tremendous instability and change. Concerns about growing authoritarianism in American politics – as reflected in the rise of...

Trump’s Five Worst Tax Secrets, Revealed

Thousands of demonstrators marched on Saturday to demand that Donald Trump release his tax returns. But, barring an unexpected surprise – a W2 form...

Toward a Politics of Ungovernability: Shutting Down American-Style Authoritarianism

Photo by Daniel Huizinga | CC BY 2.0 It is impossible to imagine the damage Trump and his white nationalists, economic fundamentalists, and white supremacists...

Austerity Never Ends: Economists Say Wages Are Too High

No, you can’t really make this stuff up: Orthodox economists continue to tell us that the reason for ongoing economic stagnation is that wages...

You Pay Your Fair Share. Shouldn’t Wall Street?

Did you pay all of your taxes this April? Wall Street banks typically pay much less than the official 35 percent corporate tax rate. And...

Poised to Make History, New York on Cusp of Tuition-Free College

New York is on the verge of becoming the first state in the nation to offer tuition-free state and city colleges for low- and...

'Going on Offense,' Advocates Demand Single-Payer Health Program

With a new poll strengthening their case and the Republican healthcare bill's failure energizing their call, Medicare-for-all advocates are holding rallies in scores of...

Marching for Trump Tax Transparency

Candidate Trump repeatedly promised to release his past tax returns, once they were no longer being audited. But those promises have failed to materialize,...

Hyun Lee on North Korea, Jennifer Reisch on Women in the Workplace

PlayStop pop out ...

These 156 Lawmakers Support Expanding, Not Cutting, Social Security. Does Yours?

Legislation that would expand benefits for Social Security recipients while giving millions of seniors a tax break was re-introduced in the U.S. House on...

A Tax Plan Only a One Percenter Could Love

After the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the Trump administration has set its sights on its next big project:...

Love, Western Nihilism and Revolutionary Optimism

How dreadfully depressing life has become in almost all of the Western cities! How awful and sad. It is not that these cities are not...

Proposed #CollegeForAll Plan Would Tax Wall Street to Destroy Student Debt Crisis

In a progressive push-back to the Trump administration's right-wing agenda—and amid rising inequality—Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday unveiled...

Study: Sean Spicer’s Handpicked Press Corps

The White House press corps has not exactly been a haven for inspirational adversarial journalism over the years. Made up almost exclusively of corporate...

Capitalism Produced Trump: Another Reason to Move Beyond It

President Donald Trump departs the Oval Office, where he was to sign two executive orders related to trade, at the White House in Washington,...

Study: Sean Spicer’s Handpicked Press Corps – 45 percent of reporters he's called on...

The White House press corps has not exactly been a haven for inspirational adversarial journalism over the years. Made up almost exclusively of corporate...

Trump's Climate Order Isn't the End of the Story: A Conversation With Climate Justice...

Members of People's Action demonstrate at the American Petroleum Institute in Washington on April 20, 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of People's Action) It only takes a...

Thousands protest throughout Russia

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Robots could take over millions of jobs in the next 15 years – report

Millions of jobs in the UK are in jeopardy because of robots taking over various...

Trump's Austerity Budget Increases Military Recruiters' Power to Prey on Youth

Rory Fanning speaks in Japan on a Veterans for Peace trip in 2016. (Photo: Yoshiaki Kawakami) Stories like this are funded by readers like you,...

China’s Great Leap Forward: Western Frogs Croak Dismay

Introduction From their dismal swamps, US academic and financial journal editorialists, the mass media and contemporary ‘Asia experts’, Western progressive and conservative politicians croak in...

Economic Update: Capitalism and Democracy

This week's episode discusses the economy of Puerto Rico, worsening inequality in the UK and the decision by Girl Guides of Canada to cancel...

Fight for $15, Movement for Black Lives to Join Forces in Nationwide Protest to...

MEMPHIS, TENN. - The Fight for $15 and the Movement for Black Lives will take to the streets nationwide April 4 – the anniversary...

Meals on Wheels Is Just the Beginning: Economist Mark Price on Trump’s Proposed Cuts

A disabled pilot opens a prepared meal at his home in Portland, Oregon, July 12, 2010. Meals on Wheels, a program that Donald Trump...

Underwater Nation

Are you or a loved one having trouble staying afloat? You’re truly not alone. While the media reports low unemployment and a rising stock market,...

Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape

Photo by Nathanial St. Clair Donald Trump’s presidency is spawning innumerable movements, groups and individual engagements that are beginning to challenge not only the new...

The Political Economy of ‘Moral Authority’

In her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last year (7/28/16), Hillary Clinton forcefully rebutted President Donald J. Trump’s call to “make America...

Stop Protecting the Criminality of the Global Pesticides Industry

The agrichemicals industry wallows like an overblown hog in a cesspool of corruption. With its snout firmly embedded in the trough of corporate profit...

Hammond’s U-turn on National Insurance savagely mocked on social media (TWEETS)

Published time: 15 Mar, 2017 15:19 The internet did not look kindly at Chancellor Philip Hammond’s...

New York Scraps Literacy Test for Teachers After It Weeds out Minorities

Mar 14, 2017 By Reinhard Wolff | redice.tv Equality is under attack yet again – shut it down! AP News: ...

Trump’s Childcare Plan Will Only Help the Rich

Pesident Trump portrays himself as an expert at marketing designer ties and gourmet steaks, but now, as chief executive of federal social policy, his...

Teacher describes impact of social crisis in Toledo, Ohio schools

Phyllis Steele Toledo, Ohio is a port city on the western edge of Lake Erie. The city, whose population burgeoned along with its glass-making and...

Bush-Era Foreign Policy Delusions Are Alive and Well in 2017

In trying to unravel the debates over U.S. foreign policy currently being fought out in the editorial pages of the New York Times, The...

A Double Deuce to Working Families (and Math)

The political theater that passes for serious policy debate is about to run into an unfortunate reality as Donald Trump’s budget plan comes face...

Hammond’s Budget ‘out of touch with reality’ for millions – Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond of setting out a “budget of complacency,” as the upbeat assessment of the UK economy...

University feminist society accused of hate crime for gender pay gap bake sale

Published time: 7 Mar, 2017 16:53Edited time: 7 Mar, 2017 17:07 A university feminism society is...

Trump and Saving Capitalism

Capitalism, Thomas Piketty showed in his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century has a built-in tendency to worsen income and wealth inequalities. One consequence of this...

A State’s Right to Honest Money

History shows that, if individuals have the freedom to choose what to use as money, they will likely opt for gold or silver. Of course,...

Sweat Shops, GMOs and Neoliberal Fundamentalism: The Agroecological Alternative to Global Capitalism

Much of the argument in favour of GM agriculture involves little more than misrepresentations and unscrupulous attacks on those who express concerns about the technology and its impacts....

Americans divided on basic identity & threats to their way of life – poll

Published time: 6 Mar, 2017 05:34 Americans have a lot more than its tweet-happy president to worry...

"We Can't Organize Out of Fear": Undocumented Organizer Aly Wane on Resisting ICE

Undocumented organizer Aly Wane speaks at a School of the Americas protest in 2013. (Photo: Stephen Pavey) Since election night 2016, the streets of the...

Building "Feminism for the 99 Percent," Women's Strike Will Take Many Forms

Whether by walking off the job or boycotting "unseen" labor, women and allies around the world next week will stand up and speak out...

The Best Education Our Money Can Buy

Most of us know folks who owe everything they have in life to education. That explains, I suspect, why we nod in agreement whenever...

The Best Education Our Money Can Buy

Most of us know folks who owe everything they have in life to education. That explains, I suspect, why we nod in agreement whenever...

My Novel (Accidentally) Predicted Trump

It’s terrifying when your dystopian nightmares begin to come true. Donald Trump is consolidating a circle of extremist advisers. Hardline restrictions on immigration are going...

‘The Basis of a Humane Immigration Policy Is to Respect People as Human Beings’...

Janine Jackson interviewed Mizue Aizeki about criminalizing immigrants for the February 24, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Mizue Aizeki: “The...

It’s Time to Scrap NAFTA, Not ‘Tweak’ It

In a recent appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump promised that “we’re going to tweak” the North American Free Trade Agreement,...

Is It Time for a Tax Strike? A Conversation With Activist Michael Kink

Michael Kink is arrested during civil disobedience at the New York State Capitol in Albany in June 2013 with a multi-issue activist coalition. (Photo:...

To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street

All too often these days, large U.S. corporations and Wall Street banks seem more interested in tapping overseas markets than in growing a customer...

Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance

From the outset of Donald Trump’s campaign for the Presidency the infamous New York billionaire made it clear that the tactic of moral panic...

Heterosexual couple denied civil partnership in possible ‘breach of human rights’

A heterosexual couple who appealed in court for a civil partnership have lost their case...

Fiction and the Fed

Even the most innocent novel can give its reader a fresh perspective on the economy during the author’s time. Economic writings and economic conditions...

Millions of UK families on brink of poverty, report from leading think tank finds

Rising prices and stagnating incomes have left millions of British families on the very brink...

Trump's Trade Reforms Will Not Increase US Wages

President Donald Trump claims he will use international trade policy to bolster the middle class and reduce income inequality. "The great American middle class is...

Pro-GMO Scientists Blinded by Technology and Wedded to Ideology

The Oxford Martin School is based at Oxford University in the UK and has set up the ‘Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations’ (OMC). Bringing together...

Pro-GMO Scientists Blinded by Technology and Wedded to Ideology

The Oxford Martin School is based at Oxford University in the UK and has set up the ‘Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations’ (OMC). Bringing together...

Monsanto and GMO Propagandists Softening-up UK Public for GM After Brexit

On the back of Brexit, the UK government is planning what could be a disastrous trade deal with the Trump administration. It would likely...

Look Again at That Dot

That love your neighbor thing? That golden rule espoused by most of the world’s religions? It’s not about only loving those who we agree...

The Path to achieving a truly Universal Basic Income

by Adam W. Parsons / February 7th, 2017 Is it a viable prospect to create a direct mechanism for transferring a universal basic income to...

Ecuador After Ten Years of President Correa: New Paper Examines Key Indicators, Reforms, and...

WASHINGTON - A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) looks at key economic and social indicators, as well as...

Trident nukes useless against today’s actual security problems – CND report

Britain’s Trident nuclear missile system fails to address any of the real security issues faced...

So Now What? Good Question

Since the election last November, I’ve been searching for the right words to convey my concerns. It’s not primarily about who won and who...

A Hard Look at Islamists Hiding Behind the Pink Pussy Hat Protesters

Around the world legitimate protests in recent years were turned into color revolutions. So-called humanitarian groups attach themselves to protests and in many cases...

Monsanto’s Communications Guru to Visit the UK: Instead of Promoting GM, Take Responsibility for...

Monsanto is preparing a fresh effort to promote genetically modified (GM) crops to the UK public, according to a piece in The Scottish Farmer. The...

Hundreds gather for Super Bowl Trump protest in Houston (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Houston on Sunday for a pre-Super Bowl demonstration against US President...

#BoycottBudweiser: Twitter clash over beer company’s Super Bowl migration ad (VIDEO)

Hours before Super Bowl LI kicks off, a Twitter war has erupted over Budweiser’s half-time advertising...

Netanyahu Proves Israel Is Corrupt To Its Rotten Core

(RINF) - Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in danger of being brought down, possibly soon, over what initially appears to be little more...

Unspeakable: the Black Book of Imperial Terrorism

Photo by Laurie Avocado | CC BY 2.0 American “mainstream” journalists who want to keep their paychecks flowing and their status afloat know they must...

‘Stop Trump’: Celebrities lead campaign to block state visit

British campaigners including musicians, comedians, politicians and trade unionists have joined forces to oppose Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to welcome US President Donald...

Fighting for Workers' Rights Under Hostile Labor Laws: Insights From the Deep South

Ben Speight rallies with members of Teamster Local 728 against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Atlanta in October 2015. (Photo: Fred Nye) It can be easy...

Side-By-Side: Obama's 2008 Speech on Race vs. Trump's 2017 Black History Month Remarks

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union... Two hundred and twenty-one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the...

The Left loves fake news

Austerity strikes back: Living standards set to tumble as Britain’s ‘mini-boom’ ends

British living standards are set to crash as the “mini-boom” witnessed over recent years comes to an end, dragging income growth down to just...

Massive Airport Rallies at JFK and Across US Were Spurred by Broad-Based Grassroots Organizing

Protesters at JFK Airport rally for the release of refugees detained as a result of President Donald Trump's immigration ban, January 28, 2017. (Photo:...

ANAL squatters group claims millionaire’s London mansion for homeless & prostitutes

A group of anti-fascist anarchist squatters has claimed a £15 million (US$18.9 million) building in...

Media Consensus on ‘Failing Schools’ Paved Way for DeVos

The spectrum of opinions on Betsy DeVos presented in corporate media range from skepticism to enthusiasm, but school choice itself is unquestioned. The nomination of...

How Trump Can Unite the Left

As millions of Democrats, Greens, liberals, progressives, and lefties across America prepare to resist Trump, it’s time to build greater unity and alliances among...

The Empire Has No Clothes

Photo by Nicolas Raymond | CC BY 2.0 Harsh realities have long mocked United States “elites’” ritual description of their nation state as a benevolent...

The Deep State v. Trump

Photo by Jamelle Bouie | CC BY 2.0 The Leftish Populist Revolution That Failed In the 2016 presidential election cycle, two “populist” candidates running outside and...
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Video: From luxury skiing to ‘day in the life of a refugee’: Things to...

Fighting inequality and supporting the middle classes are among the Forum's main topics. Although, remember the gathering is taking place in one of Europe's...

Dawn of the Resistance

As someone once said, a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth puts its boots on. In the 2016 presidential election,...

The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think

It is an era of instability and disintegration which began in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 and in Europe and the...

Thousands protest Trump in New Zealand

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Eight People Own as Much as Half the World

Photo by SPACES Gallery | CC BY 2.0 Just when it seemed we might be running out of superlatives to demonstrate the monstrous inequality of...

Trump’s First Act: Big Giveaway to Wall Street Elite

WASHINGTON - Immediately after he was sworn in as America’s 45th President on Friday, Donald J. Trump signed a series of executive orders, including...

Trump’s Attack on America

As "President" Trump assumes the Oval Office amid historically rock-bottom public support, the clatter of partisan battling and liberal anger clutters a harsher reality. This...

King’s Dream Still Isn’t Reality

Not long ago, I saw a comment on an online article about the rise in protests for black civil rights. “We gave you a...

The Women’s March on Washington and the Coming of Age of Feminism

For those who believe in equality and solidarity, and face the outrage of the upcoming Trump inauguration, it is heartening to witness the Women’s...

Health Care Repeal Is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires

Great magicians are masters of diversion. They attract our attention with one hand while using the other to trick us into thinking a supernatural...

Matt Taibbi Chronicles Election of "Billionaire Hedonist" Donald Trump

As a new study by Oxfam finds the world's eight richest men control as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity, the group...

Dr. King, Labor Leader

The photograph is iconic. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only 39 years old but the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader, lay fatally wounded...

Obama’s Failed Presidency

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org I’m a former lifelong Democrat, stating here a clear and incontestable fact: Barack Obama is a failed President. It’s true...

Capitalism Rations What We Most Need — Let's Demand Medicare for All: A Conversation...

Mariame Kaba speaks at an event she organized calling for the closure of youth prisons as part of the Chicago Teachers' Union's #ShutDownCHI one-day...

Dossier’s Russia Charges Should Be Treated Skeptically–but Taken Seriously

The idea that charges of Trump colluding with Russia came from an “intelligence report” is itself an invention. Some in media are treating the report...

Robots could erode the right to privacy, Britons fear

Artificial intelligence could erode privacy, make face-to-face contact a thing of the past, and stop...

‘We’re Seeing the Result of a 40-Year Assault on the Liberal Mainstream’ – CounterSpin...

Janine Jackson interviewed Ellen Schrecker about the New McCarthyism for the January 6, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Ellen Schrecker:...

American Media Must Do Better in 2017 – An open letter to the American...

Donald Trump on NBC‘s Meet the Press (1/10/16) There is a crisis in American journalism. For too long, news outlets have prioritized their bottom line...

Capitalism Is the Problem

Employees assemble synthesizers at Moog Music's production facility in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, June 9, 2015. Moog's new employee-ownership arrangement is more than just...