Davarian L. Baldwin’s recent book, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower, offers an insightful examination—and stirring critique—of the role of universities in the political economy of U.S. cities. In this interview, Baldwin shines a light on how institutions that define themselves as key contributors to the public good have entrenched new forms of urban inequality. Understanding the meaning of higher education in American life today requires seeing the university from the perspective of the workers it exploits, the residents it displaces, and the people it polices. Sam Klug: You claim that many major cities have not just embraced the eds and meds economy but have actually become company towns for large institutions of higher education—what you label “UniverCities.” How do universities exercise this kind of control?
At least 55 of the largest corporations in America paid no federal corporate income taxes in their most recent fiscal year despite enjoying substantial pretax profits in the United States. This continues a decades-long trend of corporate tax avoidance by the biggest U.S. corporations, and it appears to be the product of long-standing tax breaks preserved or expanded by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) as well as the CARES Act tax breaks enacted in the spring of 2020. The tax-avoiding companies represent various industries and collectively enjoyed almost $40.5 billion in U.S. pretax income in 2020, according to their annual financial reports. The statutory federal tax rate for corporate profits is 21 percent. The 55 corporations would have paid a collective total of $8.5 billion for the year had they paid that rate on their 2020 income.