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Runaway inequality gives the richest of the rich the nerve to deploy tax loopholes to reduce their taxes. They also have the power to subvert democracy by preventing politicians from eliminating these enormous giveaways. The most egregious example, the "carried interest" loophole, allows billionaire hedge funds and private equity managers to avoid billions in taxes that the rest of us, of course, have to make up. By allowing these billionaires to declare ordinary income as capital gains, this loophole drops their top rate drops from 39.6%, to 20%. We're talking big money.

Here's how it plays out. The top 25 hedge fund managers in 2013 collectively took in $24.3 billion dollars. For starters, that gives them an average income of $467,000 an hour. They…



A society scarred by runaway inequality will divide in to two very unequal sectors.

For the super-rich, the world of for-hire private services will cater to their every need. They live on patrolled estates, commute by helicopter, travel by private jet, educate their children in elite private schools, receive high quality private health care, and be treated differentially by politicians as well as the criminal justice system. They are hermetically sealed from homelessness and crime. Student debt is a non-issue except as a financial market to exploit. Poverty and fair taxes are far, far away from their day to day realities.

When your are the richest of the rich, America looks damn good. Your employees and servants fawn over your. Politicians and the medi…

America is the richest country in all of history. We have the largest economy and the largest number of millionaires and billionaires. At the same time, however, we lead the developed world in economic inequality. In 1965, CEOs received $20 for every dollar earned by the average worker. Today the gap is $354 to $1.


For much of American history, the incarceration rate was relatively low and steady, even during the turbulent 1960s. But as rising inequality took hold around 1980, so did the rise of our prison population.

Runaway inequality and the downward pressure on wages, especially for those at the bottom, create ideal conditions for a vast underground economy. Stiff sentencing laws and the War on Drugs colluded to fill our prison's and jails. For-profit private prison companies with Wall Street financing have pressed to keep the jails full and to expand them.



We lead the developed world in homelessness:
One of the most crushing outcomes of runaway inequality is homelessness. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, homelessness has multiple causes including foreclosures, poverty, decline of work opportunities, reductions in public assistance, lack of affordable health care, mental illness, addiction and domestic violence. Many of these causes are directly related to and exacerbated by rising inequality.

As the wealthy deploy tax shelters both here and abroad, the money for affordable housing, urban shelters and public assistance has declined. Gentrification of urban areas has further driven up housing costs and pushed low-income residents from single room hotels, boarding houses and shelters. The housing crash, …

In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty. We lost the war. Today, of all the developed nations in the world, America is near the top when it comes to the percentage of our children living in poverty.

We can find data that compares our country to others when it comes to student debt. That's because in most countries higher education is free. In fact, higher education once was virtually free here as well. After WWII, the GI Bill of Rights paid for more than 3 million veterans to return to school, tuition free. The bill also provided stipends for living costs as well. California and then New York also developed tuition-free state wide university systems. However, as runaway inequality set in, state and federal support for higher education did not keep up with tuition costs. The breach was filled by Wall Street, which profits mightily from the trillion dollar student debt market.

Our vision is so crippled by rising inequality that we consider student d…


The country is ruled by oligarchs and their enablers.
by Richard Kim for the Nation

It just so happened that during the week that Republicans rammed a $1.5 trillion tax bill through Congress without a single Democratic vote, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, was finishing up a fact-finding mission to the United States.

Alston visited places like Georgia, Alabama, and West Virginia, which voted for Donald Trump, but he also stopped in California, which went for Hillary Clinton, and Puerto Rico, which wasn't allowed to vote for president at all. 

A veteran diplomat with tours in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Albania, Alston was nonetheless shocked by what he saw here, in the richest country in the world. His devastating report

Costa Rica is a thorn in the side of orthodox economics, says anthropoligist Jason Hickel at the London School of Economics in The Guardian. The conventional wisdom holds that high GDP is essential for longevity: "wealthier is healthier", as former World Bank chief economist Larry Summers put it in a famous paper. But Costa Rica shows that we can achieve human progress without much GDP at all, and therefore without triggering ecological collapse. In fact, the part of Costa Rica where people live the longest, happiest lives - the Nicoya Peninsula - is also the poorest, in terms of GDP per capita.

Costa Rica proves that rich countries could theoretically ease their consumption by half or more while maintaining or even increasing their human development indicators. …


A LOCAL EVENT ON THIS TOPIC:


Worker Cooperatives: A Sustainable, Equitable Business Model for the Future

 

7:00 PM Thursday August 24

 

Live Oak Grange

1900 17th Avenue

 

This free event is designed for anyone who would like to learn more about a non-hierarchical business model empowering workers to step outside the system to become their own boss. The program features a short film about an inspiring Bay area worker cooperative, presentations by founders of local worker-owned businesses Peddlers Express and Community Printers, discussion, and Q and A. Consider attending if you are interested in a different path: business owners thinking of retiring, fledgling entrepreneurs, service workers, cottage industries, those seeking alternatives to capitalism.

 

Organized …

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