Income Inequality News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on income inequality
Some of the highest employment rates in the advanced world are in places with the highest taxes and most generous welfare systems, namely Scandinavian countries. The United States and many other nations with relatively low taxes and a smaller social safety net actually have substantially lower rates of employment. In Scandinavian countries, working parents have the option of heavily subsidized child care. Leave policies make it easy for parents to take off work. Heavily subsidized public transportation may make it easier for a person in a low-wage job to get to and from work. And free or inexpensive education may make it easier to get the training to move from the unemployment rolls to a job. Wages for entry-level work are much higher in the Nordic countries than in the United States, reflecting a higher minimum wage, stronger labor unions and cultural norms that lead to higher pay. Perhaps more Americans would enter the labor force if even basic jobs paid [adequate wages], regardless of whether the United States provided better child care and other services. There is a lesson from Scandinavia useful in its simplicity: If you make it easier for people to work, it may be the case that more will.
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Occupy Wall Street is tackling a new beast: student loans. Marking the third anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the group's Strike Debt initiative announced ... it has abolished $3.8 million worth of private student loan debt since January. It said it has been buying the debts for pennies on the dollar from debt collectors, and then simply forgiving that money rather than trying to collect it. In total, the group spent a little more than $100,000 to purchase the $3.8 million in debt. While the group is unable to purchase the majority of the country's $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt because it is backed by the federal government, private student debt is fair game. This debt Occupy bought belonged to 2,700 people who had taken out private student loans to attend Everest College, which is run by Corinthian Colleges. Occupy zeroed in on Everest because Corinthian Colleges is one of the country's largest for-profit education companies and has been in serious legal hot water lately. Following a number of federal investigations, the college told investors this summer that it plans to sell or close its 107 campuses due to financial problems -- potentially leaving its 74,000 students in [the] lurch. "Despite Corinthian's dire financial straits, checkered past, and history of lying to and misleading vulnerable students, tens of thousands of people may still be liable for the loans they have incurred while playing by the rules and trying to get an education," a Strike Debt member said in an email.
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Take a stroll through just about any commercial district in San Francisco, and you're likely to see a revolutionary sight that spread from the city around the world - homeless people hawking copies of a newspaper that is all about poverty. The newspaper is the Street Sheet, and when it started there was nothing like it. Now, the buck-a-copy publication is marking a major milestone: the 25th anniversary of its first issue. It's grown to become an eight-page broadsheet on newsprint, filled with artwork, journalism, poetry and opinion pieces produced by homeless people themselves. There are 125 homeless vendors who sell a combined 17,000 copies twice a month, and they keep all the proceeds in hopes of earning a small living without panhandling. Many of the pieces are produced by homeless people. The Street Sheet is billed by its publisher, the Coalition on Homelessness, as the longest continuously produced newspaper covering homeless issues in the world, although New York City's Street News came out around the same time. Together, they set the stage for similar papers in more than 30 countries, including Britain's the Big Issue, Spare Change News in Boston and Seattle's Real Change News. The Coalition on Homelessness was founded in 1987 to fight for the rights of homeless people and to advocate for more housing.
Note: Read a rich sample of this publication discussing the courageous work of peaceworker David Hartsough. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has built a sizable political profile including the requisite presidential speculation by espousing a simple idea: that the system is "rigged" against average Americans. And you might be surprised who agrees with her: A whole bunch of conservatives. According to a new Pew survey, 62 percent of Americans think that the economic system unfairly favors the powerful, and 78 percent think that too much power is concentrated in too few companies. The discontent isn't limited to those who share Warren's liberal ideology; 69 percent of young conservative-leaning voters and 48 percent of the most conservative voters agree that the system favors the powerful, according to Pew. Although Warren seems an outlier in the legislative branch for her fiery discontent with inequality and the role she says Wall Street plays in exacerbating it the Pew survey suggests that the vast majority of Americans are at least open to her underlying premise.
Note: Watch Chris Matthews of Fox News interview Elizabeth Warren to see how the right is opening to support of good people on the left. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
A few days ago, The Times published a report on a society that is being undermined by extreme inequality. This society claims to reward the best and brightest regardless of family background. In practice, however, the children of the wealthy benefit from opportunities and connections unavailable to children of the middle and working classes. And it was clear from the article that the gap between the societys meritocratic ideology and its increasingly oligarchic reality is having a deeply demoralizing effect. If the rich are so much richer than the rest that they live in a different social and material universe, that fact in itself makes nonsense of any notion of equal opportunity. The data in question have been compiled for the past decade by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, who use I.R.S. numbers to estimate the concentration of income in Americas upper strata. According to their estimates, top income shares took a hit during the Great Recession, as things like capital gains and Wall Street bonuses temporarily dried up. But the rich have come roaring back, to such an extent that 95 percent of the gains ... since 2009 have gone to the famous 1 percent. In fact, more than 60 percent of the gains went to the top 0.1 percent, people with annual incomes of more than $1.9 million. The growing concentration of income at the top [is undermining] all the values that define America. Year by year, were diverging from our ideals. Inherited privilege is crowding out equality of opportunity; the power of money is crowding out effective democracy.
Note: For more on extreme income inequality, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The week before the G8 convenes once again is a natural time to reminisce about the good old days, but this is about more than nostalgia. Even in today's age of austerity, the G8 has a chance to ... tackle the forgotten scandal of hunger. A child dies every 10 seconds from malnutrition not because their parents are reckless, stupid or lazy but because they were unlucky enough to be born at a time and place where there is too little food available or, perhaps more tragically, where people cannot afford to buy the food that is. One in eight people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight. That's 870 million people. The total population of the G8 is just 890 million. Just imagine the urgency to act if those 870 million lived in the G8 rather than in Africa, South Asia and other poor countries. Protecting poor people from land grabs, making it easier for them to find out what companies and their governments are doing and stopping the ridiculous situation where G8 members' policies actively encourage land to be used for growing fuel rather than food: all these will help. But perhaps the biggest step forward the G8 could make would be to end the scandal that sees companies dodge more than $160bn a year in tax they should pay poor countries. It is money that could be invested in farms providing the seeds, equipment and know how to get more food from the same plot of land. And it could be used to provide safety nets to help people whose ability to earn a living has failed to keep pace with rising food prices.
Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity. This is especially tragic: While Americans may differ on the desirability of equality of outcomes, there is near-universal consensus that inequality of opportunity is indefensible. The Pew Research Center has found that some 90 percent of Americans believe that the government should do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity. The upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most of Europe and lower than in all of Scandinavia. The life prospects of an American are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in almost any other advanced country for which there is data. Latinos and African-Americans still get paid less than whites, and women still get paid less than men, even though they recently surpassed men in the number of advanced degrees they obtain. Discrimination, however, is only a small part of the picture. Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality. After 1980, the poor grew poorer, the middle stagnated, and the top did better and better. A result was a widening gap in educational performance the achievement gap between rich and poor kids born in 2001 was 30 to 40 percent larger than it was for those born 25 years earlier, the Stanford sociologist Sean F. Reardon found.
Note: The author of this article, Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, a professor at Columbia and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist for the World Bank, is the author of The Price of Inequality. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
Journalist Chrystia Freeland has spent years reporting on the people who've reached the pinnacle of the business world. For her new book, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, she traveled the world, interviewing the multimillionaires and billionaires who make up the world's elite super-rich. Those at the very top, Freeland says, have told her that American workers are the most overpaid in the world, and that they need to be more productive if they want to have better lives. "It is a sense of, you know, 'I deserve this,' " she says. "I do think that there is both a very powerful sense of entitlement and a kind of bubble of wealth which makes it hard for the people at the very top to understand the travails of the middle class." How are the super-rich ... different from the super-rich of the past say, 1955? Well, there are many more of them, and they're a lot richer than they used to be. "One of the things which is really astonishing is how much bigger the gap is than it was before," she says. "In the 1950s, America was relatively egalitarian, much more so than compared to now." CEOs earn exponentially more now, compared with their workers, than they did 60 years ago. Freeland says she's worried about what she calls an inevitable human temptation that people who've benefited from a mobile society, like America, will get to the top and then rig the rules to benefit themselves." You don't do this in a kind of chortling, smoking your cigar, conspiratorial thinking way," she says. "You do it by persuading yourself that what is in your own personal self-interest is in the interests of everybody else.
In the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. By 1500, Venices population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink. The story of Venices rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness. The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish. That ... is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent pulls away from everyone else and pursues an economic, political and social agenda that will increase that gap even further ultimately destroying the open system that made America rich and allowed its 1 percent to thrive in the first place.
Note: The author of this article, Chrystia Freeland, wrote the book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, from which this essay is adapted. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
Los Altos resident Doug Edwards asked President Obama something that many Americans would consider unthinkable: "Would you please raise my taxes?" Edwards, 53, can afford it. Retired after being amply compensated for being employee No. 59 at Google, he's part of a Bay Area-birthed organization called Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. The Patriotic Millionaires contend that Americans with incomes over $1 million should shoulder a larger share of the tax burden to pay for Pell Grants, road improvements and training programs "that made it possible for me to get to where I am," as Edwards told Obama during the president's appearance last week at the Mountain View social networking company LinkedIn. Polls say most respondents agree that rich folks should pony up, as the effective tax rates for the wealthiest Americans - what people actually pay after deductions and exemptions - are at their lowest levels since 1960. And the income gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans is at its widest mark since the Great Depression. Last year, Obama did not live up to his campaign promise to rescind the Bush-era tax cuts on upper-income Americans.
Note: Did you know that the marginal income tax rate on the very rich in the U.S. is the lowest it has been in more than 80 years? Under President Dwight Eisenhower ... it was 91 percent. Now it's 36 percent. For more on this, click here.
The full humanitarian impact of the world economic crisis became clearer this week, as UN and global agencies warned of huge job losses, a rise in the number of people afflicted by chronic undernourishment, and the "extraordinary price" being paid by children and other vulnerable groups as mass austerity programmes constrict the developing world. In a report prepared with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ... the International Labour Organisation said the group of developing and developed nations had seen 20m jobs disappear since the 2008 financial crisis. At current rates it would be impossible to recover them in the near term and there was a risk of the number doubling by the end of next year, it said. The World Disasters Report, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, concluded that the number of people worldwide who are undernourished must be at least 1 billion. Of these, around 60% are women. A total of 178 million children under five have stunted growth as a result of lack of food. Meanwhile, a study by the UN children's fund, Unicef, said there would be "irreversible impacts" from wage cuts, tax increases, benefit reductions and cuts in subsidies that bore most heavily on the most vulnerable in low-income nations. Unicef said: "In the wake of the food, fuel and financial shocks, a fourth wave of the global economic crisis began to sweep across developing countries in 2010: fiscal austerity."
Note: If nations around the world donated just a few percent of their military budgets to food and nutrition programs for the poor, malnutrition and starvation worldwide could be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated. For lots more from reliable sources on income inequality, click here.
The number of chronically hungry people in the world dipped considerably below the 1 billion mark - the first drop in 15 years - thanks partly to a fall in food prices after spikes that sparked rioting a few years ago, U.N. agencies said [on September 14]. Still, an estimated 925 million people are undernourished worldwide, and the latest figures don't reflect the repercussions from the massive flooding in Pakistan. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization's report suggested some progress in the battle to end hunger, but stressed the world is far from achieving the U.N. promoted Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of undernourished people from 20 percent in 1990-92 to 10 percent in 2015. The report estimated there are 98 million fewer chronically hungry people than in 2009, when the figure just topped 1 billion. The drop in the chronically hungry is partly because ... cereal and rice harvests have been strong. Cereal production this year was the third-highest ever recorded, despite a drought-fueled wheat shortfall in Russia, said FAO director-general Jacques Diouf. Also heartening, Diouf noted, is that cereal stocks are high - some 100 million tons more than the low levels of 2007-2008, when some 38 countries shut down their food export markets in reaction.
G.D.P. is an index of a countrys entire economic output a tally of, among many other things, manufacturers shipments, farmers harvests, retail sales and construction spending. Its a figure that compresses the immensity of a national economy into a single data point of surpassing density. The conventional feeling about G.D.P. is that the more it grows, the better a country and its citizens are doing. [But] it has been a difficult few years for G.D.P. For decades, academics and gadflies have been critical of the measure, suggesting that it is an inaccurate and misleading gauge of prosperity. What has changed more recently is that G.D.P. has been actively challenged by a variety of world leaders, especially in Europe, as well as by a number of international groups, like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The G.D.P. ... has not only failed to capture the well-being of a 21st-century society but has also skewed global political objectives toward the single-minded pursuit of economic growth. Which indicators are the most suitable replacements for, or most suitable enhancements to, G.D.P. Should they measure educational attainment or employment? Should they account for carbon emissions or happiness?
Note: Which is more important, the economic prosperity of a people, or the well being and level of happiness?
New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows. Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children? The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems. Part of the reason is insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do. Studies have found that children in low-income families may have a higher rate of mental health problems perhaps two to one compared with children in better-off families. But that still does not explain the four-to-one disparity in prescribing antipsychotics.
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The incomes of the young and middle-aged especially men have fallen off a cliff since 2000, leaving many age groups poorer than they were even in the 1970s, a USA TODAY analysis of new Census data found. People 54 or younger are losing ground financially at an unprecedented rate in this recession, widening a gap between young and old that had been expanding for years. The dividing line between those getting richer or poorer: the year 1955. If you were born before that, you're part of a generation enjoying a four-decade run of historic income growth. Every generation after that is now sinking economically. Household income for people in their peak earning years between ages 45 and 54 plunged $7,700 to $64,349 from 2000 through 2008, after adjusting for inflation. People in their 20s and 30s suffered similar drops. Older people enjoyed all the gains. The line between the haves and have-nots runs through the middle of the Baby Boom, the population explosion 1946-64. "The second half of the Baby Boom may be in the worst shape of all," says demographer Cheryl Russell of New Strategist Publications, a research firm. "They're loaded with expenses for housing, cars and kids, but they will never generate the income that their parents enjoyed."
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E-mailers sent me copies of two news photos that revealed an apparent double standard regarding black and white flood victims in New Orleans. One of the images, shot by photographer Dave Martin for The Associated Press, shows a young black man wading through chest-deep waters after "looting" a grocery store, according to the caption. In the other, taken by photographer Chris Graythen for AFP/Getty Images, a white man and a similarly light-skinned woman also waded through chest-deep water after "finding" goods that included bread and soda in a local grocery store, according to the caption. Apparently, quipped a cynical blogger at Daily Kos, "It's not looting if you're white."
Note: For both photos and more on this disturbing story, click here.
Most readers have probably heard of Bitcoin, the digital coin that dominates the cryptocurrency market. It has gained notice both because of its skyrocketing value (from less than a cent in early 2010 to around $2,600 currently). But do you know Ethereum, with a total value of coins in circulation of close to $20 billion? Then there are more than 800 lower-value and often creatively named coins among those listed on Coinmarketcap.com. After years as a niche market for technologically sophisticated anarchists and libertarians excited about a decentralised financial network not under government control, digital coins may be on the verge of going mainstream. Cryptocurrency has understandable appeal to millennials, who came of age during the 2008 financial crisis. Theres a low cost for entry, you dont pay a lot of fees and millennials are the most tech-savvy, said John Guarco, 22. Like most of the people interviewed for this article, [Guarco] asked that names of the coins he has invested in not be published. Unlike previous generations, many of these greenhorn investors dont have pensions, are mistrustful of saving money in mutual funds, and are fully accustomed to owning digital assets. As traditional paths to upper-middle-class stability are being blocked by debt, exorbitant housing costs and a shaky job market, these investors view cryptocurrency not only as a hedge against another stock market crash, but also as the most rational, and even utopian, means of investing their money.
Note: The media has given surprisingly little coverage to the huge gains of bitcoin and other digital currencies. If you had invested $1,000 in Bitcoin four years ago when the price was about $110 per coin, your investment would now be worth nearly $44,000, a whopping 40 times increase. The fact that the media is covering this so little suggests that the price may continue to rise as more people find out, though this is highly speculative and uncertain.
Despite the urgings of all of the worlds great religions, neoliberalism, the economic narrative that now runs the world, has convinced us that greed is good. The sole goal of the economy and business, it says, is to generate financial wealth. Markets are perfect and all of us individualistically maximizing our own desires will somehow deliver a world that works. Except that it didnt. Today eight men have as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion humans on earth. The middle class is sinking into poverty with mothers working two jobs to support their families, while proponents of austerity cut social services to give greater tax benefits to the richest one percent. The rich call themselves job creators. But they invest not in new companies, but in financial instruments that benefit the big banks. So in 2016 the bonuses paid to Wall St. bankers, if shared among minimum wage earners, would have doubled the minimum wage. Just the bonuses. The old narrative is based on ... assumptions that scientists now reject. Psychologists, evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and others find that most people are not greedy, rugged individualists. We seek to meet our needs, but more, people seek goodness, connection, and caring. We desire to be rewarded for meaningful contributions with a decent living. We are not mostly motivated to acquire wealth. To thrive, businesses and society must pivot toward a new purpose: shared well-being on a healthy planet.
Note: The above article was written in support of the Regenerative Future Summit, which will take place in May 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and income inequality.
Manufacturing jobs used to be a path to the middle class. But now many skilled, working Americans need some form of public assistance because their wages dont pay for basic living expenses. Over 2 million supervised manufacturing workers, or about a third of the total, need food stamps, Medicaid, tax credits for the poor or other forms of publicly subsided assistance while they work on goods that can carry the tag Made in the U.S.A., according to research of official government wage and welfare data released Tuesday by the University of California, Berkeley. The cost of these benefits to the U.S. taxpayer? From 2009 to 2013, federal and state governments subsidized the low manufacturing wages paid by the private sector to the tune of $10.2 million per year. In decades past, production workers employed in manufacturing earned wages significantly higher than the U.S. average, but by 2013 the typical manufacturing production worker made 7.7 percent below the median wage for all occupations, said the paper. The research aimed to extend an already well-established national debate on wages paid in the service industry, which are often juxtaposed to the factory work that lifted millions of Americans out of poverty for much of the 20th century. The research comes as U.S. workers overall are experiencing one of the lowest paces of wage growth on record.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report at 8:30 a.m.. [Daniel Nadler] sat at the kitchen table in his one-bedroom apartment ... as the software of his company, Kensho, scraped the data from the bureaus website. Within two minutes, an automated Kensho analysis popped up on his screen. At 8:35 a.m., Kenshos analysis would be made available to employees at Goldman Sachs. In addition to being a customer, Goldman is also Kenshos largest investor. "People always tell me ... I used to have a guy whose job it was to do nothing other than this one thing," Nadler said. Within a decade, he said, between a third and a half of the current employees in finance will lose their jobs to Kensho and other automation software. If jobs can be displaced at Goldman, they can probably be displaced even more quickly at other, less sophisticated companies, within the financial industry as well as without. In late 2013, two Oxford academics released a paper claiming that 47 percent of current American jobs are at "high risk" of being automated within the next 20 years. So far the burden of job losses is stopping just short of the executive suites, even as the gains in efficiency are worsening already troubling levels of income inequality.
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