Fighting Inequality: Which Nations Do More Than Pay Lip Service?

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By Sam Pizzigati for Inequality.org – Two years ago, in 2015, just about all the nations in the world came together and agreed to make reducing inequality — the gap between rich and poor — a prime United Nations “sustainable development goal.” A noble gesture. But UN groups make noble gestures all the time. These gestures do sometimes translate into real progress. They more typically amount to blowing smoke — and obscuring how little progress governments may actually be making. How can we tell which nations are just blowing that smoke? People worldwide clearly need global measures — comparative yardsticks — that can help average citizens hold their governments accountable to all their noble rhetoric. On inequality, we now have one such yardstick. Oxfam, the activist global charity, has just teamed with the Development Finance International consulting group to unveil the first-ever Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, “a new global ranking of governments based on what they are doing to tackle the gap between rich and poor.” We already know, researchers at Oxfam and DFI point out, what governments should be doing to reduce the gap between rich and poor.

2 Billion People Don’t Have Access To Clean Water, Opens Up Fissures Of Inequality

On 9 February 2016 in central Ethiopia, children and women from a semi-pastoralist community wait their turn to fill jerrycans with clean water at a water point in Haro Huba Kebele in Fantale Woreda, in East Shoa Zone, Oromia Region. Credit: © UNICEF/UN011590/Ayene

By Roshni Majumdar for IPS – UNITED NATIONS, Jul 13 2017 (IPS) – More than two billion people lack access to clean and safe drinking water, according to a new report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Although significant progress to ensure access to drinking water has been achieved, there is still a long way to go to ensure its quality—deemed free from pollutants and safe for drinking. “Clean water and sanitation is central to other outcomes, for example, nutrition among children. While many countries like India have made it a top priority, many others haven’t been able to emphasise the issue yet,” Sanjay Wijesekera, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at UNICEF, told IPS. As many as 400 million people still rely on distant water sources—travelling to and fro from their homes to pick it up. Some 159 million people, according to the report, rely on untreated water from lakes and streams. This puts lives, especially of young children, at great risk. “Every day, 800 children under the age of five die from waterborne diseases like diarrhoea. In fact, diarrhoea is the second biggest cause of death in the world.” Wijesekera added. A lack of access to clean drinking water is also bad news for hygiene and sanitary levels. In many countries, open defecation due to the lack of in-house toilets poses a significant challenge. “The sheer indignity of openly defecating, especially among young girls, takes a toll on other aspects of their lives—such as their poor attendance in school where there aren’t toilets,” Wijesekera explained.

In 40 Years: CEO Pay Up 937%, Worker Wages Stagnant

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By Alexandra Jacobo for Nation of Change. US inequality problem continues to be the worst in the industrialized world. A new report, published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) this week, shows that while wages for American workers have essentially remained stagnant for decades, CEO pay has soared at an “outrageous” clip. A study by the Pew Research Center (PRC) in 2014 found that economic analyses show a “lack of meaningful wage growth.” Looking at five decades worth of government wage data, PRC showed that wages have been flat or even falling since the 1970s, regardless of changes in the economy and job markets. Now EPI’s Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder have found that between the years of 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose 937 percent. Over that same period, worker compensation grew by a measly 11.2 percent. The CEOs of America’s largest firms made an average of $15.6 million, 271 times the annual average pay of a typical American worker.

HSBC A ‘Crucial Link In Chain’ Of Palestinian Oppression Says War On Want

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By Staff of War On Want – Some of the UK’s best known banks and financial institutions are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people according to a new report by War on Want. The report, Deadly Investments: UK bank complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, exposes the business relationship between UK banks and financial institutions, and 19 companies known to supply Israel with weapons and technology used in the abuse of Palestinian human rights, including war crimes. UK banks and financial institutions examined in the report hold shares worth over £10.8 billion in companies that sell weapons, military equipment and technology to Israel, which is used to oppress Palestinians. Additionally, some of them facilitate loans to these companies.

Citizens’ Wealth Funds: An Alternative To The Inequality Escalator

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By Stewart Lansley for Inequality – Many attempts to tackle inequality fall short because they fail to target inequality’s primary source, the concentration of the ownership of both capital and other forms of wealth. Because of this concentration, the substantial returns that stem from wealth — in dividends, rent, and interest — accrue almost wholly to the already rich. Citizens’ wealth funds can help break up concentrated wealth. These funds offer a powerful and potentially popular instrument for tackling extreme levels of inequality. Indeed, they embrace a vital principle: that part of national wealth should be communally owned, with the returns going to all citizens. In contrast to our current built-in inequality escalator — what the French economist Thomas Piketty calls a “fundamental force for divergence” — citizens’ funds offer a new counter-force for convergence. Over time, they can raise the share of national wealth held in common, ensuring that a growing part of the returns from capital are distributed equally among all citizens. These funds, in effect, operate like a giant community-owned unit trust, giving all citizens an equal stake in a part of the economy. A utopian idea? Hardly.

Will Progressives Only Talk To Themselves?

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BY Les Leopold for Huffington Post. Building such a network, however, requires having faith in the power of education. It requires that we understand that runaway inequality ties us all together and can only be tackled through a broad-based common movement with a common agenda. This educational process asks us to have the confidence and courage to engage in dialogue with a wide range of people who also care about building a better society for themselves and their families. None of this will come easy. Our silos provide us with strength. We take pride in our identities and are empowered by them. Also, it is very difficult for us to even imagine what a common movement might look like, let alone how to build one. But we can be sure of one thing: Building a fairer and more just society will require a massive educational movement. As the Populists taught us, it can be done.

First Ever Global Health Study Finds Massive Inequity

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By Dean R. Owen and Rachel Fortunati in HealthData.org. SEATTLE – A first-ever global study finds massive inequity of access to and quality of health care among and within countries, and concludes people are dying from causes with well-known treatments. “What we have found about health care access and quality is disturbing,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, senior author of the study and Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. “Having a strong economy does not guarantee good health care. Having great medical technology doesn’t either. We know this because people are not getting the care that should be expected for diseases with established treatments.” For example, on a scale of 0 to 100 for health care access and quality, Norway and Australia each scored 90 overall, among the highest in the world.

Inequality Is The Real Backstory To Sweden’s Riots

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By George Lakey for Waging Nonviolence – Mohandas Gandhi famously said that the root of violence is inequality. His view helps us understand what’s behind the headlines about recent rioting in immigrant neighborhoods in Sweden. No one was killed, although one police officer did actually shoot at a rioter — an exception to Swedish police policy. Over the four nights of rioting in the vicinity of Stockholm, a restaurant was burned down, more than 30 cars were set on fire and police were attacked. Rioters damaged stores, schools, and even an arts and crafts center. According to the Guardian, the immediate trigger for the riots seems to have been the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby…

Newsletter: Being Prepared To Turn Crisis To Our Advantage

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. With the Trump administration floundering and the movement opposed to him expanding, we need to be prepared for a possible shock doctrine moment, whether intentional or not, that could be used to unify the country around an unpopular president and shut down political dissent. If a crisis occurs, we need to use it, not to unify behind the President, but to rapidly explain how the crisis is part of the failed government policies of both parties, that it is a systemic problem of which Trump is a symptom and that the crisis means the movement must expand. If we succeed we will advance our cause even in a crisis whether it is self-created, provoked or blow back. We will not only blunt the potential of a Reichstag moment but turn it to our advantage to serve transformation of the nation. If we are to succeed, we must start preparing now. Those who are prepared for crisis, do best when it occurs.

Newsletter: The Problem Isn’t Trump, It’s Bigger

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The awakening of mass protests against Donald Trump’s executive orders and appointments could become a real movement, but it must realize a critically important point: Trump is not the problem, the system is. Illusion of Democracy hides oligarchyTrump is a symptom of a long-term trend of a failing democracy that is too closely tied to Wall Street and the war machine. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are part of this failed system that does not represent the people of the United States. We are all working to build a mass movement for economic, racial and environmental justice that is bigger than Donald Trump. As the extremist actions of the Trump administration are put in place we need to remember that extremism for the wealthy, for war and ignoring of environmental catastrophe is consistent with the actions of all recent presidents and the leadership of both corporate parties.

Retirement Divide: 100 CEOs v. The Rest Of Us

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By Sarah Anderson for IPS-DC – A new report calculates the gap in retirement assets between the top 100 CEOs and all African-American, Latino, female-headed, and white working class households. (Washington, D.C. ) – The presidential election put a spotlight on the economic insecurity millions of voters are feeling as the result of the loss of millions of unionized factory jobs that were once a major source of both decent pay and retirement benefits. While white working class families have been the focus of much of this attention, a new Institute for Policy Studies report shows that the real retirement security divide lies between those at the top of corporate America and nearly all the rest of us.

How American Life Continued To Deteriorate In 2016

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Paul Buchheit for Nation of Change – The reality of the disposable American has been building up in recent years, and new evidence keeps pouring in. Now the potential exists for greater suffering under the rule of a billionaire Cabinet that is far, far removed from average workers and renters and homeowners. First the “upside” – 5% of us are millionaires. Depending on the source, America has anywhere from 7 million to 13.5 million millionaires – about 5% of U.S. adults, and about a 40% increase in just six years. At the other end, 90% of us have gained NOTHING since 1997, and at least half of us NOTHING since 1980.

A Global Week Of Action On Inequality

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By Soren Ambrose for Inequality.org – Countries the world over are facing an inequality emergency, and it’s time for global elites to listen to the rest of us, especially the most marginalized people. In 2015, my organization, ActionAid, joined with several other groups to form the Fight Inequality Alliance to campaign against inequality in all its forms. This Alliance includes other global organizations like Greenpeace, Oxfam, the International Trade Union Confederation, the ACT Alliance, and Civicus, as well as regional members like Focus on the Global South, Femnet, and the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development. Starting on January 14, our Alliance is sponsoring a Fight Inequality Week of Action, an effort timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos…

Stark Inequality: Oxfam Says 8 Men As Rich As Half The World

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By Pan Pylas for Associated Press – DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday. Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, anti-poverty organization Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem. If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump…

Racial Segregation Still At Heart Of Chicago’s Ills…And America’s Too

30 November 1991: Barack Obama, then a young social activist, speaks to local youths in the South Side of Chicago about ‘Project Vote’. Photograph: Polaris / eyevine

By Natalie Y Moore for The Guardian – In a couple of days, President Barack Obama will give a farewell speech in his adopted hometown of Chicago. This is the city to which he moved as a young man in the 1980s, to work asacommunityorganiser, inspired by Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor. Chicago is also where Obama met his wife, Michelle, a native of the city, had two daughters and launched a dazzling political career. Obama’s swan song will take place a touch north of Bronzeville, the South Side neighbourhood historically known as the “Black Belt”. When African Americans left the south in droves a century ago as part of the great migration, this is where they landed if Chicago was the final destination.