During his three decades on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas has enjoyed steady access to a lifestyle most Americans can only imagine. A cadre of industry titans and ultrawealthy executives have treated him to far-flung vacations aboard their yachts, ushered him into the premium suites at sporting events and sent their private jets to fetch him — including, on more than one occasion, an entire 737. It’s a stream of luxury that is both more extensive and from a wider circle than has been previously understood. Like clockwork, Thomas’ leisure activities have been underwritten by benefactors who share the ideology that drives his jurisprudence.
André Soleyn, 55, and two dozen of his fellow United Metro Energy Corp. workers never wanted to go on strike in the first place. After the workers voted to join Teamsters Local 553 in December 2018, the company dragged its feet in negotiating a fair contract for three years. Feeling like they were left with no choice, the workers decided to take collective action. “It was a last resort,” Soleyn said. Tuesday, April 18, marks the two-year anniversary of the strike. Yet, Soleyn and the rest of the striking United Metro workers see no end in sight as they enter the third year of their walkout, which has now become the nation’s longest current ongoing strike.
See our new report, researched and written by IPS, Oxfam, Patriotic Millionaires, and Fight Inequality Alliance. This report is a complement to Oxfam’s recently released, “Survival of the Richest.” Our report includes country-by-country data on wealth inequality and the revenue possibilities of national wealth taxes. The global billionaire class is gathering this week in Davos, Switzerland to talk about the ongoing “polycrisis” – a term embraced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to describe the convergence of ecological, political, pandemic and economic disruptions. The one acute crisis they won’t talk about is the extreme levels of concentration of wealth and power happening across the globe. Estimates from our report, Extreme Wealth, demonstrate that $1.7 trillion could have been raised in 2022 alone if a progressive wealth tax were imposed on the ultra-rich. This revenue could be used to tackle global inequality and set in motion a system of economic democracy.
On 8 January, large crowds of people dressed in colours of the Brazilian flag descended on the country’s capital, Brasília. They invaded federal buildings, including the Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace, and vandalised public property. The attack, carried out by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro, came as no surprise, since the rioters had been planning ‘weekend demonstrations’ on social media for days. When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known as Lula) was formally sworn in as Brazil’s new president one week prior, on 1 January, there was no such melee; it appears that the vandals were waiting until the city was quiet and Lula was out of town. For all its bluster, the attack was an act of extreme cowardice. Meanwhile, the defeated Bolsonaro was nowhere near Brasília. He fled Brazil prior to the inauguration – presumably to escape prosecution – and sought haven in Orlando, Florida (in the United States).
Chicago, Illinois - Citing years of broken promises to build affordable homes, a Chicago City Council committee rejected a plan to lease public housing land to a professional soccer team owned by a billionaire ally of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. That was on Tuesday. Less than a day later, allies of the mayor called a do-over and reversed the vote. The full City Council then voted Wednesday to approve a zoning change needed to let the Chicago Fire soccer team build a practice facility on the 26-acre site. A June story by ProPublica detailed how the land was once part of the ABLA Homes, a public housing development on the Near West Side where 3,600 families lived. After demolishing most of the ABLA buildings and displacing thousands of people, the Chicago Housing Authority promised to build more than 2,400 new homes in the area. So far, it has finished fewer than a third of them.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Darlene Foreman, a 60-year-old Black woman and one of the UC Townhomes tenant representatives, told the assembled press on July 11: “This is a fight for the Townhomes but not only the Townhomes.” It’s for people “all over the country who are facing displacement.” Behind her were about 50 other residents and supporters holding signs or cell phones as she continued: “I will not be displaced. . . . Me, the residents here and people all over the country are sick of it. So, if this fight takes today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the year after that, then we’re gonna be out here fighting!” In the background were about 15 tents, which were put up on the property’s green lawn after a “Protect the Block Party” July 9. Residents and housing activist supporters are taking turns staying overnight as part of the “We ain’t going nowhere” campaign, joining in the residents’ resistance.
In March 2020, as the first wave of coronavirus infections all but shut down the U.S. economy, Congress responded with rare speed, passing a $2.2 trillion relief package called the CARES Act. The centerpiece of the law was an emergency payment to over 150 million American households that needed help. Congress used a simple filter to determine who was eligible for assistance: The full $1,200 was limited to single taxpayers who’d reported $75,000 a year or less in income on their previous tax return. Married couples got $2,400 if they had reported less than $150,000 in income. Money was sent automatically to those who qualified. Ira Rennert, worth $3.7 billion according to Forbes, did not appear to need the cash infusion offered by the CARES Act.
The Orange Era of racist rants will soon be over – just a few hundred mad tweets to go till January 20th, when the head flunky for the real rulers of the USA will take over the levers of government. Joe Biden made only one campaign promise that counts -- to the only people that matter to corporate Democrats -- when he assured the party’s rich funders that “No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change” under his presidency. But even as he spoke, back in June, the greatest change in wealth and power relationships in U.S. history was in full roar, as the billionaire class feasted on the Covid economy.
Washington, DC - Essential workers went underpaid, unsupported and forced to risk their health at corporations owned or operated by billionaires, even as the total wealth of America’s billionaires rose by more than $1 trillion under the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), United for Respect, and Bargaining for the Common Good Network. An analysis of billionaire wealth by IPS found that 647 U.S. billionaires gained $960 billion, almost $1 trillion in wealth between March 18, 2020 and November 17, 2020.
If you are in the 99% here is how well you are faring under Trump policies compared to the 1%: for each dollar of increased income that you earned in 2018, each One-Percenter got $88 more income. Huge as that ratio is, it’s small change compared to the super-rich, the 0.01% of Americans with incomes of $10 million and up. That ratio is $1 for you and $2,215 for each super-rich American household. Let’s call them the Platinum-Premiere-Point-Zero-One-Percenters The slice of American income pie going to the poor shrank under Trump by the same amount that it grew for the super-rich. Ponder that.
It is hard to think of an American film that provoked a greater backlash in 2020 than “Planet of the Humans.” Focused on the theme of planetary extinction and fanciful proposals to ward it off, the documentary was released for free on YouTube on April 21. The date was significant not only because it was the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but because a global pandemic was tearing through America’s social fabric and exposing the human toll of the country’s globalized, growth-obsessed economic model.
Most billionaires don’t work harder, don’t think harder, and don’t know more. They have nothing over your average person except: a) luck b) sometimes inheriting a fortune and c) being more sociopathic. So I guess you could say they’re extraordinary on the sociopathy front. They are more willing to crush other humans to get what they want and thereby they are more able to get what they want. Billionaires in the U.S. have seen their fortunes skyrocket, increasing by 12.5 percent since the pandemic began. The Institute for Policy Studies released a study “showing that, in the eight weeks between March 18 and May 14, the country’s super-wealthy have added a further $368.8 billion to their already enormous fortunes.”
A shadowy right-wing nonprofit is helping coordinate coronavirus response strategy and promoting the lockdown protests. Working alongside close allies that have helped coordinate the protests, including Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks, Council for National Policy Action (CNP Action) has been hosting conference calls and publishing action memos around reopening states’ economies. CNP Action is the 501(c)(4) nonprofit affiliate of the Council for National Policy (CNP), a coalition of far-right political advocacy and think tank figures that has worked largely behind the scenes since its founding in 1981. CNP’s membership includes conservative Republicans and right-wing extremists who work together to shape policy. Trump allies, including senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and former chief adviser Steve Bannon, were CNP members as of 2014. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow has also been a member, according to a recently published book by Anne Nelson.
Media outlets keep telling us that we’re all together in this pandemic. But we’re not. The super-rich have separated themselves from the rest of us, with concierge medicine, private travel accommodations, isolated but well-stocked resort homes, and a variety of other advantages that allow them to look beyond the hardships endured by average Americans. A few billionaires have contributed to the fight against Covid-19. But Luke Hildyard, Executive Director of the High Pay Centre, says, “Very generous individual grants can obscure the fact that on the whole, wealthy people’s charitable giving is pretty minimal.” In the most flagrant example of disregard for the rest of us, one company has installed private ‘doomsday’ bunkers in New Zealand with “luxury bathrooms, game rooms, shooting ranges, gyms, theaters and surgical beds.”