In recent years, trans issues have broken into the mainstream. It didn’t happen overnight; it’s been a long time coming. Trans activists have been at the center of the fight for LGBTQ rights since before Stonewall, decrying discrimination and violence against their peers for decades. Now, between Pride Month and protests centering on Black lives, these issues are in the spotlight again. Black trans activists have taken to social media and the streets, bringing attention in particular to the growing number of murdered Black trans women within their community. For many who’ve criticized the commodification of Pride, it’s been a welcome shakeup. Crosscut spoke to four Black trans organizers who’ve witnessed and been part of this evolution.
Some business leaders may be concerned about some of the tax proposals being floated by Democratic candidates for president. But plenty of them — from JPMorgan Chase JPM, -0.36% CEO Jamie Dimon to Starbucks SBUX, -0.39% founder Howard Schultz — agree that it’s time for wealthy people like them to pay more. “I believe that individuals earning the most can afford to pay more, and I have no problem paying higher taxes to address some of the fundamental challenges and inequities in our society,” the billionaire banker Dimon told Fox Business.
For over half a century, the United States has measured income poverty by comparing a family’s income to a standardized dollar amount (a “poverty line”) that varies by family size. For a family of four, this poverty line was initially set at $3,104 in 1963. The current official poverty line — $25,701 for a family of four in 2018 — is simply the base-1963 poverty line adjusted for nothing but inflation over the last 55 years. Today the United States is the only country in the world that measures present-day poverty by using a poverty line set over half a century ago and since then only adjusted for inflation.
The weight of the wealth that sits at the top of America’s economic order isn’t just squeezing dollars out of the wallets of average Americans. That concentrated wealth is shearing years off of American lives. The latest evidence for that squeeze on American wallets comes from the Census Bureau. Researchers there have just released results from their latest annual sampling of U.S. incomes. In 2018, the new Census stats show, incomes for typical American households saw a “marked slowdown.” In effect, average Americans have spent this entire century on a treadmill getting nowhere fast.
A new report from the Federal Reserve highlights the bleak economic prospects for young Americans, concluding that millennials are in much worse financial shape than earlier generations (at the same age) in terms of their relative income and wealth. These findings are not encouraging for those concerned with the problem of growing inequality. Despite the rise of populist anger in President Trump’s USA, inequality received little attention in 2018 from both major parties. But make no mistake, the story of early 21st century US is one of record inequality – and a growing divide between two groups: the haves and the have-nots.
For Republican members of Congress and cable news pundits, a cap on the earnings of the super rich might sound like a dystopian nightmare. Yet, as author Sam Pizzigati argues in his new book, The Case for a Maximum Wage, those who are not ardent free marketeers should give the idea some serious consideration—not only as a desirable policy, but also one that might be more practical than some imagine.
10 Years After The Start Of The Great Recession, Black And Asian Households Have Yet To Recover Lost Income
Today’s Census Bureau report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in 2017 shows that while all race and ethnic groups shared in the growth in median household incomes during the previous two years, that trend abruptly ended for African American households in 2017. Real median incomes were basically flat among African Americans (from $40,339 to $40,258) and down among Asians (from $83,182 to $81,331), but up 3.7 percent (from $48,700 to $50,486) among Hispanics, and 2.6 percent (from $66,440 to $68,145) among non-Hispanic whites. The decline in Asian household incomes was not statistically significant. As a result of stalled income growth among African Americans, recent progress in closing the black-white income gap over the last couple years has been reversed.
There is a large wealth gap between white families and nonwhite families — a gap that impacts the economic stability of entire communities. According to 2016 Federal Reserve data, median wealth for white families is $171,000. Black and Latino families, meanwhile, have far less wealth: Black families have a median wealth of $17,600, while Latino families have $20,700. It would take decades to centuries for Black families to achieve the same amount of wealth that white families have. According to a 2016 report from the Institute for Policy Studies, it would take Black families 228 years to reach the same amount of wealth that white families have today. The racial wealth gap matters because wealth is an important economic resource and a form of power. Wealth builds and sustains communities. It helps communities weather economic hardships and supports future generations.
When the poorest gain, the lower bound, or ‘floor’, of the distribution of living standards rises. Using microdata spanning the last 30 years, this column argues that the floor in the US has been sinking, alongside rising top incomes. The floor would have fallen further without public spending on food stamps, which helped protect the poorest in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. As is well known, the US is experiencing a marked rise in top incomes (e.g. Piketty and Saez 2017), with relative stagnation of middle household incomes. But what is happening at the other extreme of the distribution? Are America’s poorest families seeing some progress? That is the question this column tries to answer. Some terminology first. “Top incomes” refers to the incomes of the richest 1%. We refer to the lower bound of the distribution of levels of living as “the floor”.
After losing over a third of their value a decade ago, which led to the financial crisis and a deep recession, U.S. house prices have regained those losses - led by a robust labor market that has fueled a pickup in economic activity and housing demand. But supply has not been able to keep up with rising demand, making homeownership less affordable. Annual average earnings growth has remained below 3 percent even as house price rises have averaged more than 5 percent over the last few years. The latest poll of nearly 45 analysts taken May 16-June 5 showed the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 cities is expected to gain a further 5.7 percent this year. That compared to predictions for average earnings growth of 2.8 percent and inflation of 2.5 percent 2018, according to a separate Reuters poll of economists.
If a low-income mom gets a $10/hour raise, that’s good news for her family, even if her boss gets an extra $100, right? Maybe not. Looking at children’s wellbeing in rich countries like the U.S. in 2007, Kate E. Pickett and Richard G. Wilkinson found that inequality may matter a lot more for kids’ lives than absolute income level. Pickett and Wilkinson started their study by looking at UNICEF data for 23 relatively wealthy countries, including Australia, Japan, the U.S., and much of Europe. For each country, they looked at a variety of child wellbeing measures, including infant mortality rates, immunizations, academic achievement, bullying, and loneliness. Only a few of these measures turned out to be related to a nation’s average income. Kids in the richest countries were more likely to pursue advanced education, less likely to live in single-parent or step-parent families, and more likely to eat fruit every day, but that was about it.
By Peter Bohmer for Counterpunch. The Universal Basic Income(UBI) is getting increasing attention in the United States, in particular from Silicon Valley, and also in many other countries in the world. The idea of the universal basic income is that every resident in a society would get a certain income that’s not attached to their work. The numbers I’m suggesting to start with for the United States are $1,000 a month for each person over 18 and $500 a month for each person under 18. These amounts would increase annually to keep up with inflation and would also rise as productivity increases. To illustrate the idea, let’s take a family of two adults—two parents 18 and over and two children under 18. They would receive $1,000 for each adult and $500 for each child, which would total 3,000 a month. That is $36,000 a year, which is about 1 1/2 times the official poverty line. In addition, it would offer a housing allowance in high rent cities. That’s the basic idea.
By Andre Roberge for Progressive Army - Even though this may seem like cut-and-dry common sense legislation, this ordinance still has an uphill battle ahead of itself. Former Washington State Attorney Rob McKenna laid bare the main issues as follows: 1.[The city] would also have to persuade the Supreme Court to ignore an existing state statute that prohibits counties, cities … from imposing a tax on net income. 2.[What they] would have to do is persuade the Supreme Court to overlook its own precedent. The precedent alluded to above deals with a 1930s Washington Supreme Court decision that states “income is property, and the state’s constitution declares that all property must be taxed uniformly.” Since Seattle’s proposed income tax is a progressive tax and not “uniformly” distributed onto all tax brackets, the Supreme Court would have to redefine property. Some critics have gone even further.
By Paul Niehaus and Michael Faye for Boston Review - Thankfully, we are less ignorant today. A number of organizations—including GiveDirectly, which we co-founded—have in fact been showering the poor with cash and then testing the results experimentally. A large and growing body of rigorous evidence has now accumulated, including 165 studies of 56 different schemes in 30 countries recently reviewed by the Overseas Development Institute. Recipients of basic income continue to work, spend less on vice, and are able to invest in long-term plans. The findings are encouraging. The darkest of concerns have not materialized: recipients of regular transfers have not cut their work hours, and if anything have cut their expenditure on alcohol and tobacco. Cash transfers have had positive impacts on a wide range of outcomes, and in some cases have indeed increased self-employment and earnings. In northern Uganda, for example, young adults given one-time grants of $382 each increased their earnings by 38 percent and their work hours by 17 percent 4 years later, investing in skills training and in tools in order to enter a range of trades from tailoring to carpentry to hairstyling.
By Paul Buchheit for Common Dreams - America has always been great for the richest 1%, and it's rapidly becoming greater. Confirmation comes from recent work by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databooks (GWD). The data relevant to this report is summarized here. The Richest 1% Extracted Wealth from Every Other Segment of Society. These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016. While there's no need to offer condolences to the rest of the top 10%, who still have an average net worth of $1.3 million...