A new report from Oxfam International reveals alarming disparities in carbon emissions, underscoring a stark contrast between the wealthiest 1% of people and the rest of the planet, with the poorest percentage of the population left to bear the brunt of the environmental damage. The report titled, “Climate Equality: A Planet for the 99%,” makes clear the impact of such emissions, stating that in 2019, the emissions of the super-rich 1% “are enough to cause 1.3 million deaths due to heat.” Violations and disparity in emissions are also highlighted in the report, including the 1% burning through twice as much of the carbon budget as the poorest half of humanity combined in the last 30 years.
In the wake of global anti-racism movements and a growing awareness of the problematic dynamics of colonial knowledge-making in international development, governments, academics and NGOs are scrambling to reposition themselves and their work in order to address systemic power imbalances. Yet, feminist economists like those at the International Association of Feminist Economics (IAFFE) have pointed out that many efforts and the scholarship largely informing the policy remain superficial, and do not go far enough in tackling the root causes of economic inequality, social and business exclusion.
Back in the early 20th century, earnest middle-class reformers out to overturn America’s plutocratic order gravitated to the pages of The Public, a weekly magazine whose editor, Louis Post, would become the U.S. assistant secretary of labor in 1913. One year later, the associate editor of The Public would offer a cutting critique of the legal system that so protected our nation’s plutocratic powers-that-be. That system, Stoughton Cooley of The Public avowed, rendered judgments “so far from justice and common sense” that average citizens believe “absolutely that the poor have no redress against the rich.”
In 2020, the Trump team’s last full year, U.S. households annually making over $1 million faced fewer tax audits than households with incomes low enough to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. That had never happened before. But the blame for this plutocratic about-face, a new Americans for Tax Fairness report makes clear, doesn’t belong to the Trump crew alone. Rich people-friendly members of Congress gave Donald Trump his tax-cutting playbook. Ever since 2010, they had been squeezing the IRS budget big-time, forcing the agency “to drastically pull back on auditing the ultra-wealthy.” How drastically?
This past Thursday night, just hours before the expiration of the United Auto Workers contract with Detroit’s Big Three, UAW president Shawn Fain had plenty on his mind. Most of that plenty would be obvious and predictable. The impending expiration of his union’s auto industry contract, with no new pact in sight. The state of the union’s readiness for what could be the UAW’s most pivotal strike since 1937. But Fain had something else on his mind as well: the continuing and unforgivable maldistribution of America’s income and wealth. “Just as in the 1930s,” Fain reminded his fellow auto workers, “we’re living in a time of stunning inequality throughout our society.”
A new study by Joshua Pearce of London’s Western University and Richard Parncutt of the University of Graz in Austria has found that, if global heating reaches or surpasses two degrees Celsius by the year 2100, there is a high probability that over the next century humans, mostly the wealthiest, will be responsible for the deaths of approximately one billion mostly poorer humans. Many of the most powerful and profitable businesses on the planet are part of the oil and gas industry, which is both indirectly and directly responsible for over 40 percent of carbon emissions, which impact billions of lives in some of the world’s most remote communities that have the least resources, reported Western News.
United Kingdom - The TUC has condemned a “tale of two Britains” which sees working people suffering “the longest pay squeeze in modern history” while bankers’ bonuses are at eye-watering levels and chief executive pay is surging. The damning criticism came as the TUC launched a blueprint to squeeze Britain’s multimillionaires for a “modest” proportion of their wealth and end the country’s “increasing wealth inequality.” The blueprint would raise £10 billion for the public purse and should be the “start of a national conversation about taxing wealth,” said TUC general secretary Paul Nowak. It would affect only 140,000 individuals — 0.3 per cent of Britain’s population.
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.
The just-released Good Jobs First analysis — Power Outrage: Will Heavily Subsidized Battery Factories Generate Substandard Jobs? — examines a little-known provision in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act that may end up costing U.S. taxpayers more than $200 billion over the next decade, a sum above and beyond the $13 billion that state and local governments have promised as battery incentives. Lawmakers see all those billions of tax dollars as a generator of good wages, but nothing in the battery subsidy fine-print mandates — or even incentivizes — decent worker paychecks. Ford Motor, for instance, will be eligible for $6.7 billion in federal subsidies for its new $3.5-billion battery plant in Michigan, and state and local officials have already handed Ford $1.7 billion for that plant.
Could corporate CEOs anywhere in the universe have a deal much sweeter than U.S. defense contractor chiefs? The CEO at CybeCys, Inc., a Texas-based defense contractor, might quibble with that question. He isn’t feeling all that much sweetness these days. Last month, federal prosecutors announced a deal that will have this CEO and CybeCys pay over $283,000 in penalties and damages for cheating on two Covid-era federal loan programs. The CybeCys CEO seems to have transferred hefty chunks of taxpayer dollars into his own personal investment accounts and used those dollars, prosecutors charge, to buy up “securities, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrency.”
Researchers have been documenting the benefits of outdoor playtime for years, demonstrating it leads to improved cognitive ability, fights childhood obesity, improves mental health and promotes social skills. Yet, for far too many children, safe, well-designed playspaces are sorely lacking. This phenomenon is called playspace inequity, and it has lasting, detrimental effects on primarily Black and Brown communities in the United States. Cities around the country are recognizing the importance of playspace inequity as a public health issue, particularly as families emerge from a pandemic with wide-ranging physical and mental health impacts.
The debt ceiling crisis has again brought into focus the perennial gap between what the government spends and what it accumulates in taxes, and the virtual impossibility of closing that gap by increasing taxes or negotiating cuts in the budget. In a 2023 book titled A Tale of Two Economies: A New Financial Operating System for the American Economy, Wall Street veteran Scott Smith shows that we would need to tax everyone at a rate of 40%, without deductions, to balance the budgets of our federal and local governments – an obvious nonstarter. The problem, he argues, is that we are taxing the wrong things – income and physical sales. In fact, we have two economies – the material economy in which goods and services are bought and sold, and the monetary economy involving the trading of financial assets (stocks, bonds, currencies, etc.) – basically “money making money” without producing new goods or services.
Amazing things can happen when societies realize they don’t need an awesomely affluent. What sort of amazing things? Take what happened in the United States between 1940 and 1960, as economists William Collins and Gregory Niemesh do in a just-published research paper on America’s mid-century home ownership boom. Over a mere 20-year span, the United States essentially birthed a “new middle class.” The share of U.S. households owning their own homes, Collins and Niemesh note, jumped an “unprecedented” 20 percentage points. By 1960, most American families resided in housing they owned “for the first time since at least 1870” — for the first time, in effect, since before the Industrial Revolution.
America’s social studies textbooks urgently need an update — on child labor. Our textbooks, ever since the middle of the 20th century, have been applauding the reform movement that gradually put an end to the child-labor horrors that ran widespread throughout the early Industrial Age. Now those horrors, here in the 21st century, are reappearing. The number of kids employed in direct violation of existing child labor laws, analysts at the Economic Policy Institute this past March reported, has soared 283 percent since 2015 — and 37 percent in just the last year alone. Last week brought the alarming news that three Kentucky-based McDonald’s franchises had kids as young as 10 working at 62 stores in four different states.
At a time when the world is close to irreversible climate breakdown, fossil fuel energy is growing, with oil being the biggest contributor to primary energy supply. Globally, approximately 33 percent of our energy comes from oil, followed by coal, gas and hydroelectric power. Indeed, oil companies are bringing in staggering profits, and oil production may even continue to increase through 2050. Why is it so hard to quit oil, and what would it take to defeat Big Oil? Progressive economist Gregor Semieniuk tackles exasperating questions like those in this exclusive interview for Truthout.