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Inequality

The Landless Workers’ Movement At 40

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the largest social movement in the Americas: Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement, or MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra in Portuguese). What began as a group of displaced farmers has evolved over decades into a mass movement — with as many as two million members and a presence in 24 of Brazil’s 26 states. Today, the movement is the largest producer of organic food in Brazil and the largest producer of organic rice in all Latin America. While Brazil remains one of the world’s most unequal nations, the MST has made incredible progress during their 40 years of existence

Global 1% Own 43% Of Financial Assets

The world’s richest 1% own 43% of global financial assets, and the wealth of the top five billionaires has doubled since 2020, while 60% of humanity – nearly 5 billion people – collectively got poorer, according to a report by Oxfam, a leading international humanitarian organization. Oxfam published the study, “Inequality Inc.”, to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting of corporate oligarchs and Western government officials in Davos, Switzerland this January. The five richest people on Earth in 2023 were Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, and Warren Buffett. Their combined wealth skyrocketed from $340 billion in 2020 to $869 billion just three years later.

‘Climate Bill’ Enriches The Fossil Fuel Industry As Communities Suffer

One year after the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which Big Green groups hailed as a 'climate justice bill,' the truth is surfacing that this legislation is lining the pockets of the fossil fuel industry to the detriment of frontline, especially Black and Indigenous, communities. Clearing the FOG speaks to Anthony Rogers-Wright, a national racial and climate justice advocate, about the ways Joe Biden and the Democrats are failing to address the climate crisis and Big Green groups are turning away from climate justice to embrace Green Capitalism. Rogers-Wright also describes better alternatives to the Big Greens and where people can focus their efforts effectively to struggle for a just and livable future.

The Pyramid Scheme That Is Racial Capitalism

On August 26, a lone white gunman, 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, fired 11 rounds from his semi-automatic weapon into the windshield of a car parked outside a Jacksonville Dollar General, killing the African American driver. Then he walked into the discount store, and fatally shot two other African Americans before turning the gun on himself. Palmeter left behind a manifesto indicating his displeasure with African Americans, reminiscent of another 21-year-old white gunman, Dylan Roof, who eight years earlier sat outside the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. Finishing off a bottle of Smirnoff’s Ice, he pulled a Glock handgun from his waistband, walked into the church and opened fire, killing a pastor and eight of his parishioners, all of them Black.

Can We Measure Inequality Without Tallying The Wealth Of Our Wealthy?

Been eating a bit too much ice cream this sweltering summer? Thinking about going on a bit of a diet? Well, imagine yourself counting calories but exempting anything with sugar from all your counting. Would that approach help you make an appreciable dent on your excess bodily baggage? Of course not. We can’t eliminate what we ignore. And that goes for inequality as well, over 300 distinguished economists worldwide are charging in a new open letter to the United Nations and the World Bank. Back in 2015, these eminent economists remind us, the world’s nations came together and adopted a series of “Sustainable Development Goals” — SDGs for short — designed to systematically attack both poverty and climate change.

Resisting Cannibal Capitalism

It is increasingly common to hear of crises – economic, environmental and/or racial – in which the vast majority of the global population are confined to substandard living conditions while a global elite accrues wealth at a horrifying pace. There is a widespread sense that something has to give, that the world cannot continue on its current path. Of course, this is often the cry emanating from movements on the streets and detailed in the pages of Intergovernmental Panels on Climate Change (IPCC) reports but these often fall on the deaf ears of those in power. So what exactly has to change and how do we untangle this big, hot mess?

Detroit’s Fiscal Budget: A Case Study In Corporate Domination

A recent debate over the fiscal budget for 2022-2023 for the City of Detroit revealed the political character of the current administration and City Council. The budget was approved for $2.4 billion in a municipality where a majority of the population are African American, working class and impoverished. There were efforts by grassroots community organizations to influence the entire budget process. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition (MNC) in a public letter urged the City Council to include a $1400 “booster” check to retired municipal employees impacted by the more than 8% rate of inflation in the United States. In addition, to the booster campaign for retirees, the MNC in another correspondence to the City Council, demanded that the budget presented by the white corporate-imposed Mayor Mike Duggan be rejected due to its lack of consideration for the 80% African American population in Detroit.

The Gentrification Of The Rural West

Most of the windows in the Dover, Idaho community hall face old Dover, still looking over the original mill workers’ houses and church that were transported upriver in 1922. Slipping into the kitchen and peering out the back window, however, is a reminder of how much Dover has changed. In the 1950s, it would have looked at a tangle of trees, then a deep meadow in the distance, and the community’s sandy beach just beyond that. Later, the view would include massive piles of woodchips, the birch trees providing some cover between the building and graying piles of sawdust. Today, there’s a walking path that skirts the back of the community hall and, beyond that, brand-new homes. Dozens of buildings, from condominiums to bungalows to massive mansions, now sit in the fields where the mill once stood.

How Can We Solve Inequality?

Oxfam’s latest report on global inequality has highlighted some alarming statistics on how wealth distribution has worsened during the pandemic. While the wealth of the world’s 10 richest men doubled since the pandemic began, the incomes of 99% of humanity became worse off because of COVID-19. What are the solutions to this crisis?

We Have To Stand On Our Ground

Almost every single child on the planet (over 80% of them) had their education disrupted by the pandemic, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) agency. Though this finding is startling, it was certainly necessary to close schools as the infectious COVID-19 virus tore through society. What has been the impact of that decision on education? In 2017 – before the pandemic – at least 840 million people had no access to electricity, which meant that, for many children, online education was impossible. A third of the global population (2.6 billion people) has no access to the internet, which – even if they had electricity – makes online education impossible.

Identifying The Policy Levers Generating Wage Suppression And Inequality

Inequalities abound in the U.S. economy, and a central driver in recent decades is the widening gap between the hourly compensation of a typical (median) worker and productivity—the income generated per hour of work. This growing divergence has been driven by two other widening gaps, that between the compensation received by the vast majority of workers and those at the top, and that between labor’s share of income and capital’s. This paper presents evidence that the divorce between the growth of median compensation and productivity, the inequality of compensation, and the erosion of labor’s share of income has been generated primarily through intentional policy decisions designed to suppress typical workers’ wage growth, the failure to improve and update existing policies, and the failure to thwart new corporate practices and structures aimed at wage suppression.

On Contact: Pandemic Two

On the show this week, in the second of a two-part interview, Chris Hedges continues his discussion with philosopher Slavoj Zizek about the social, political and psychological consequences of prolonged lockdowns and social distancing, as well as the mass illness and death caused by the pandemic. In his new book, 'Pandemic 2: Chronicles of a Time Lost,' Zizek argues the failure of global capitalism to cope with the pandemic presages, he fears, a systems collapse, a dress rehearsal for a frightening new form of authoritarianism in which the world is starkly divided between the elites and the rest of us. "...[T]he return to normality thus becomes the supreme psychotic gesture, the sign of collective madness," Zizek writes.

Report Blasts Broadband Industry For Fueling Digital Divide

As federal lawmakers held a hearing Thursday on broadband equity, a new report details how the internet service provider industry, through hiked prices and disappearing lower-priced offerings, is exacerbating the digital divide. Entitled Price Too High and Rising: The Facts About America's Broadband Affordability Gap, the publication (pdf) from Free Press states that "the central fact is Americans pay too much for the internet." "By the start of 2020, nearly 80 million people still did not have adequate internet at home," according to report author and Free Press research director S. Derek Turner. "Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people comprise a disproportionate number of those who are disconnected."

Women Lead, Resist And Thrive – Even In The Midst Of Crises

The past decade, particularly 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, has shone a light on the full extent of existing inequalities in the world. Ahead of this International Women’s Day, we would like to draw attention to ways that women – whether Indigenous, rural workers or those enduring an occupation – resist and mobilise in the face of multiple, long-term crises. Existing patriarchal systems, structural inequalities and discriminatory laws have long stalled meaningful progress towards gender equality and women’s rights. For women living in crises such as conflicts, facing recurrent environmental disasters and cyclical financial shocks, the Covid-19 pandemic has come as an additional blow, severely impacting their right to adequate food. Conflict is a key and persistent driver of food system breakdown: more than half of undernourished people live in countries experiencing conflict. Extreme weather, economic shocks and climate change are also prevalent drivers of food crises and greatly affect food systems.

Unprotected African Health Workers Die As Rich Countries Buy Up COVID-19 Vaccines

On 6 January, gastroenterologist Leolin Katsidzira received a troubling message from his colleague James Gita Hakim, a heart specialist and noted HIV/AIDS researcher. Hakim, chair of the department of medicine at the University of Zimbabwe, had fallen sick and had tested positive for COVID-19. He was admitted to a hospital in Harare 10 days later and moved to an intensive care unit (ICU) after his condition deteriorated. He died on 26 January. It is a crushing loss to Zimbabwean medicine, Katsidzira says. “Don’t forget: We have had a huge brain drain. So people like James are people who keep the system going,” he adds. Scientists around the world mourned Hakim as well. He was “a unique research leader, a brilliant clinical scientist and mentor, humble, welcoming and empowering,” wrote Melanie Abas, a collaborator at King’s College London.
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