Income Inequality News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on income inequality
The richest 1% of adults in the world own 40% of the planet's wealth, according to the largest study yet of wealth distribution. The report also finds that those in financial services and the internet sectors predominate among the super rich. Europe, the US and some Asia Pacific nations account for most of the extremely wealthy. More than a third live in the US. Japan accounts for 27% of the total, the UK for 6% and France for 5%. The global study - from the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations - is the first to chart wealth distribution in every country as opposed to just income, for which more comprehensive date is available. It included all the most significant components of household wealth, including financial assets and debts, land, buildings and other tangible property. Together these total $125 trillion globally. The report found the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total of global assets. Half the world's adult population, however, owned barely 1% of global wealth. "These levels of inequality are grotesque," said Duncan Green, head of research at Oxfam. "It is impossible to justify such vast wealth when 800 million people go to bed hungry every night."
Note: For highly informative graphs showing the details of rising wealth inequality in the United States, click here.
The richest 2 percent of adults still own more than half of the world's household wealth, perpetuating a yawning global gap between rich and poor, according to research published Tuesday. The report from the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research shows that in 2000 the richest 1 percent of adults - most of whom live in Europe or the United States - owned 40 percent of global assets. The richest 10 percent of adults accounted for 85 percent of assets. By contrast, the bottom 50 percent of the world's adult population owned barely 1 percent of the world's wealth. "Income inequality has been rising for the past 20 to 25 years, and we think that is true for inequality in the distribution of wealth," said James Davies, a professor of economics at the University of Western Ontario, one of the report's authors. But ... there are some hopeful signs: China and India, which are developing rapidly, are gaining wealth, and in countries such as Bangladesh, the spread of microcredit institutions is helping people increase their personal wealth.
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U.S. stocks are hovering near a record high, a stunning comeback since March that underscores the new phase the economy has entered: The wealthy have mostly recovered. The bottom half remain far from it. Jobs are fully back for the highest wage earners, but fewer than half the jobs lost this spring have returned for those making less than $20 an hour. The pandemic is causing especially large gaps between rich and poor, and between White and minority households. It is also widening the gap between big and small businesses. Some of the largest companies, such as Nike and Best Buy, are enjoying their highest stock prices ever while many smaller businesses fight for survival. Some economists have started to call this a “K-shaped” recovery because of the diverging prospects for the rich and poor, and they say policy failures in Washington are exacerbating the problems. For many of the unemployed, the downturn is lasting far longer than they had anticipated. Nearly 80 percent of furloughed or laid-off workers thought they would be rehired, a Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted April 27-May 4 found. Yet so far, only 42 percent of jobs have returned. “This has been a very clear K-shaped recovery,” says Peter Atwater ... at the College of William & Mary. “The biggest and wealthiest have been on a clear path toward recovery. Meanwhile, for most small businesses and those worst off, things have only become worse. The contrast is piercing: One group feels better than ever while the other borders on hopelessness.”
Amazon hasn't paid any taxes to the US government in the past two years. Actually, Amazon received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits in 2017 and 2018. That might seem nuts, considering Amazon is the third-most valuable company in the world and earned a record $10 billion last year. But critics of Amazon's tax bill aren't accusing Amazon of doing anything improper. "This is tax avoidance, not tax evasion. There's no indication of any wrongdoing, except on the part of Congress," said Matthew Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. US tax code allows money-losing companies to reduce their future taxable income. Amazon's total earnings have easily topped its losses — many times over. But some of Amazon's earnings came from sales outside the United States, on which Amazon paid either lower or no US taxes. Many companies that lose money pay little or no federal income taxes. For example, General Motors (GM) has paid little federal tax money since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, despite posting record profits for several years. Amazon declined to comment on its federal tax payments.
Note: Read how former tax lobbyists now run the tax-writing committees. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.
Wealth concentration is at peak levels. That was the gist of a recent report published by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning think tank based in Washington, D.C.. Using data from Forbes’ annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans, the institute reached a number of conclusions regarding wealth disparities in the United States. Most dramatically, it found that the country’s three richest individuals - Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos - collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of the domestic population, “a total of 160 million people or 63 million American households.” Roughly a fifth of Americans “have zero or negative net worth,” the authors wrote. Over the years, the cutoff for The Forbes 400 has risen dramatically. In 1982, the ranking’s inaugural year, the minimum net worth was $100 million. This year the barrier to entry hit an all-time high of $2 billion. In its report, the think tank also found that, collectively, the individuals on The Forbes 400 hold more wealth than the bottom 64% of the country, "more people than the populations of Mexico and Canada combined." Altogether, the list members were worth $2.7 trillion this year, a 59% increase over the last five years alone. The net worth of the median American family, meanwhile, has declined by about 3% on an inflation-adjusted basis since Forbes began publishing the 400 in the early 1980s, the institute says. It reports that the typical U.S. family is presently worth some $80,000.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
When West Virginia declared a state of emergency to arrest the coronavirus, the social network that aids the homeless froze along with everything else. Ordered to shelter in place, people without shelter died at an alarming rate. In a bad year here ... two to four of the unhoused die. Over the past year, they have tallied 22 deaths, a sevenfold increase. Only two of the deaths are suspected to be from COVID-19. But all occurred during the collapse of the safety net that in normal times addresses the complex mix of afflictions–trauma, medical conditions, addiction–that accompany homelessness, and worsened during the profound isolation of the pandemic. What happened in [West Virginia] is happening across the country. Even before the pandemic lockdowns that fell hardest on low-income Americans –– and stand to push more people out of their homes –– the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported U.S. homelessness at 580,466 people, up 7% from a year earlier. Deaths are rising even faster. In San Francisco, the department of public health says deaths tripled over the past year in an unhoused population of 8,035. In Los Angeles, home to a vast homeless population tallied at 41,290, deaths increased by 32%. Homeless deaths in Washington, D.C., soared by 54%. In New York City, the Coalition for the Homeless reported a death rate up 75%. And over the past year, they died ... at a rate many times higher than the rate of deaths from the virus.
Bill Gates has never been a farmer. So why did the Land Report dub him "Farmer Bill" this year? Gates' achievement, according to the report, is that he's largest private owner of farmland in the US. A 2018 purchase of 14,500 acres of prime eastern Washington farmland – which is traditional Yakama territory – for $171m helped him get that title. In total, Gates owns approximately 242,000 acres of farmland with assets totaling more than $690m. To put that into perspective, that's nearly the size of Hong Kong and twice the acreage of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, where I'm an enrolled member. A white man owns more farmland than my entire Native nation! The relationship to land – who owns it, who works it and who cares for it – reflects obscene levels of inequality and legacies of colonialism and white supremacy in the United States, and also the world. Wealth accumulation always goes hand-in-hand with exploitation and dispossession. Our era is dominated by the ultra-rich ... and a burgeoning green capitalism. And Bill Gates' new book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster positions himself as a thought leader in how to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and how to fund what he has called elsewhere a "global green revolution" to help poor farmers mitigate climate change. What expertise in climate science or agriculture Gates possesses beyond being filthy rich is anyone's guess. Investment firms are making the argument farmlands will meet "carbon-neutral" targets for sustainable investment portfolios.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Millions of Americans have lost jobs during a pandemic that kept restaurants, shops and public institutions closed for months and hit the travel industry hard. While lower-wage workers have borne much of the brunt, the crisis is wreaking a particular kind of havoc on the debt-laden middle class. Before the pandemic, Americans had amassed $4.2 trillion in consumer debt, excluding mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a record even when adjusting for inflation. Housing debt added an additional $10 trillion to the tally. The coronavirus has spared few industries and expanded unemployment benefits designed to replace the average American income didn’t cover all the lost pay of higher-earning workers, especially in or near expensive cities. The extra $600 weekly payments expired in July, putting them even further behind. Unemployment has fallen from its pandemic peak of near 15%, but the rate stood at 8.4% in August, up from 3.5% in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment for the arts, design, media, sports and entertainment was 12.7% in August, more than triple its year-earlier level. In education, it more than doubled to 10.2%. Sales and office unemployment was 7.8% in August, up from 3.8% in August 2019. It could get worse. Many people who have jobs are struggling with pay cuts. As of August, 17 million workers were getting paid less due to the pandemic. Some 9.5 million took pay cuts; the remaining 7.5 million are working fewer hours.
Note: You can find the full article available for free viewing on this webpage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
The percentage of national income that is absorbed by health care has grown over the past half-century, from 5% in 1960 to 18% in 2017, reducing what is available for anything else from 95% in 1960 to 82% today. The costs of health care contribute to the long-term stagnation in wages; to fewer good jobs, especially for less educated workers; and to rising income inequality. American health care is the most expensive in the world, and yet American health is among the worst among rich countries. The U.S. has lower life expectancy than the other wealthy countries but vastly higher expenditures per person. In 2017, the Swiss lived 5.1 years longer than Americans but spent 30% less per person; other countries achieved a similar length of life for still fewer health dollars. How is it possible that Americans pay so much and get so little? The money is certainly going somewhere. What is waste to a patient is income to a provider. The industry is not very good at promoting health, but it excels at promoting wealth among health care providers. Employer-based coverage is a huge barrier to reform. So is the way that the health care industry is protected in Washington by its lobbyists—five for every member of Congress. Our government is complicit in an extortion that is an important contributor to income inequality. Through pharma companies that get rich by addicting people, and through excessive costs that lower wages and eliminate good jobs, the industry that is supposed to improve our health is undermining it.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
$13,000,000,000. If all those 000s are making your eyes go funny, I'll spell it out: thirteen billion. That's how much Jeff Bezos added to his net worth in one day last July after the pandemic caused Amazon's stock price to surge. Bezos's $13bn (Ł10bn) payday set a record for the largest single-day increase in individual wealth ever recorded; however, he was far from the only billionaire getting that corona cash. According to a report by Oxfam, the combined wealth of the world's 10 richest men has increased by $540bn since March 2020. How much money is half a trillion dollars? Enough to vaccinate everyone in the world and ensure no one is pushed into poverty by the pandemic, Oxfam's report, The Inequality Virus, claims. Oxfam releases a report on inequality, timed to coincide with the Davos summit, every year. If there is one upside to the pandemic, it's that some ideas formerly dismissed as "radical" are now anything but. The idea of wealth taxes (levies on assets rather than income) is ... gaining global momentum. The British government has been urged to levy a one-off wealth tax on the value of household assets above Ł1m. Wealth taxes are also being pushed by progressive politicians in Germany and the US. A system in which 10 men can see their collective wealth increase by half a trillion during a global crisis can't be fixed with a one-off wealth tax – we need greed taxes that prevent people amassing that much in the first place.
The world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth between them than a combined 4.6 billion people, new research has claimed. In a study published Monday, international charity Oxfam called on governments to implement policies that may help to reduce wealth inequality. The report comes as delegates gather in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum conference. Oxfam's report noted that someone who saved $10,000 a day since the construction of the Egyptian pyramids would still be 80% less wealthy than the world's five richest billionaires. Oxfam urged policymakers to increase taxes on the world's wealthiest by 0.5% over the next decade in a bid to reduce wealth inequality. A 0.5% increase in taxes on the wealthy would generate enough funding to create 117 million jobs in sectors like education and health, according to the researchers. Other suggestions made by Oxfam to help mitigate inequality included investing in national care systems, challenging sexism, introducing laws to protect carers' rights, and ending extreme wealth. "Extreme wealth is a sign of a failing economic system," the report said. "Governments must take steps to radically reduce the gap between the rich and the rest of society and prioritize the wellbeing of all citizens over unsustainable growth and profit." The call for a tax overhaul reinforces the charity's message ahead of last year's WEF summit, when Oxfam urged governments to hike tax rates for corporations and society's richest to reduce wealth disparity.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Amid a humanitarian crisis compounded by mass layoffs and collapsing economic activity, the last course our legislators should be following is the one they appear to be on right now: bailing out shareholders and executives who, while enriching themselves, spent the past decade pushing business corporations to the edge of insolvency. The $500bn dollars of public money that Congress’s relief bill provides will be used for a corporate bailout, with the only oversight in the hands of an independent council similar to the one used in the 2008 financial crisis. While that body was able to report misuses of taxpayer money, it could do nothing to stop them. As currently structured, there is nothing to keep this bailout from, like its predecessor, putting cash directly into the hands of those at the top rather than into the hands of workers. Without strong regulation and accountability, asking corporations to preserve jobs with these funds will be nothing more than a simple suggestion, leaving millions of everyday Americans in financial peril. If not properly managed, this economic disaster has the potential to be the worst in American history. Our country cannot allow a small number of executives and shareholders to profit from taxpayer funds that we have injected into these corporations for reasons of pure emergency. We need to stop this rot at the core of our economic system and realign the priorities of government with those of workers and consumers.
Some Democratic presidential candidates say that America’s economic system is badly broken and in need of sweeping, structural change. In its new Distributive Financial Accounts data series, the central bank offers a granular picture of how American capitalism has been distributing the gains of economic growth over the past three decades. Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project took the Fed’s data and calculated how much the respective net worth of America’s top one percent and its bottom 50 percent has changed since 1989. He found that America’s superrich have grown about $21 trillion richer ... while those in the bottom half of the wealth distribution have grown $900 billion poorer. Notably, this measure of wealth includes liabilities. And it does not include consumer goods. But if one did include the Fed’s data on the distribution of consumer goods, the wealth gap between the top one percent and bottom 50 would actually be even larger. In 2011, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University published a study on Americans’ views of how wealth was distributed in their society, and how they felt it should be distributed. They found that, in the average American’s ideal world, the richest 20 percent would own 32 percent of national wealth. In reality, the top quintile owned 84 percent as of 2011. And that share has grown in the intervening years. Today, the one percent alone commands roughly 40 percent of all America’s wealth.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
For 23 years, Larry Collins worked in a [toll] booth. But one day in mid-March, as confirmed cases of the coronavirus were skyrocketing, Collins’ supervisor called and told him not to come into work the next day. Collins’ job was disappearing, as were the jobs of around 185 other toll collectors at bridges in Northern California, all to be replaced by technology. The drive to replace humans with machinery is accelerating as companies struggle to avoid workplace infections of COVID-19 and to keep operating costs low. The U.S. shed around 40 million jobs at the peak of the pandemic. Some will never return. One group of economists estimates that 42% of the jobs lost are gone forever. This replacement of humans with machines may pick up more speed in coming months as companies move from survival mode to figuring out how to operate while the pandemic drags on. Robots could replace as many as 2 million more workers in manufacturing alone by 2025. “Look at the business model of Google, Facebook, Netflix. They’re not in the business of creating new tasks for humans,” says Daron Acemoglu, an MIT economist. The U.S. government incentivizes companies to automate, he says, by giving tax breaks for buying machinery and software. A business that pays a worker $100 pays $30 in taxes, but a business that spends $100 on equipment pays about $3 in taxes, he notes. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered taxes on purchases so much that “you can actually make money buying equipment,” Acemoglu says.
The Senate will be voting this week on the Trump military budget, which calls for a massive increase in defense spending. I strongly oppose this legislation. At a time when we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality; when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck; when more than 500,000 Americans are homeless; and when public schools throughout the country are struggling to pay their teachers a livable salary, it is time to change our national priorities. I find it ironic that when I and other progressive members of Congress propose legislation to address the many unmet needs of workers, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor, we are invariably asked, “How will we pay for it?” Yet we rarely hear that question with regard to huge increases in military spending, tax breaks for billionaires or massive subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. When it comes to giving the Pentagon $738 billion — even more money than it requested — there is a deafening silence within Congress and the ruling elites about what our nation can and cannot afford. When I talk about changing national priorities, I’m talking about the fact that the $120 billion increase in Pentagon spending — compared with the final year of the Obama administration — could have made every public college, university, trade school and apprenticeship program in the United States tuition free, eliminated homelessness and provided universal school meals to every kid in our nation’s public schools.
Note: The above article was written by Bernie Sanders. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
The number of newly minted and reissued billionaires soared last year, Forbes reported Tuesday in its annual ranking, a staggering accumulation of personal wealth that stands in sharp contrast with the widespread economic struggles unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic. The number of billionaires on Forbes' 35th annual ranking swelled by 660 to 2,755 – a roughly 30 percent jump from a year ago – and 493 of them are first-timers. Seven of eight are richer than they were before the pandemic. Forbes calculates net worth by using stock prices and exchange rates from March 5. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with an estimated fortune of $177 billion, topped the list. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk came in at No. 2 at $151 billion. As a class, billionaires added about $8 trillion to their total net worth from last year, totaling $13.1 trillion. The United States had the most billionaires, at 724, extending a rapid rise in wealth that hasn't happened since the Rockefellers and the Carnegies roughly a century ago. China ... had the second highest number of billionaires: 698. Gabriel Zucman, an economist ... said in an email that the explosive acceleration of wealth among the richest of the rich has only accelerated during the pandemic. "In the United States, the top 400 wealthiest Americans now own the equivalent 18% of GDP in wealth, twice as much as in 2010 (9% of GDP). The pandemic has reinforced this trend, with a boom in top-end wealth despite the decline in economic activity," he wrote.
The Covid-19 pandemic is putting the deepening class divide in America into stark relief. Four new classes are emerging. The Remotes: These are professional, managerial, and technical workers – an estimated 35% of the workforce – who are putting in long hours at their laptops ... and collecting about the same pay as before the crisis. The Essentials: They’re about 30% of workers, including nurses, homecare and childcare workers, farm workers, food processors, truck drivers, warehouse and transit workers, drugstore employees, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, and the military. Too many Essentials lack adequate protective gear, paid sick leave, health insurance, and childcare. They also deserve hazard pay. The Unpaid: They’re an even larger group than the unemployed – whose ranks could soon reach 25%, the same as in the Great Depression. 43% of adults report they or someone in their household has lost jobs or pay. The unpaid most need cash to feed their families and pay the rent. Fewer than half say they have enough emergency funds to cover three months of expenses. The Forgotten: This group includes everyone ... packed tightly into places most Americans don’t see: prisons, jails for undocumented immigrants, camps for migrant farmworkers, Native American reservations, homeless shelters, and nursing homes. The Essentials, the Unpaid, and the Forgotten are disproportionately poor, black, and Latino and they are disproportionately becoming infected.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from a great equalizer. In the same month that 22 million Americans lost their jobs, the American billionaire class's total wealth increased about 10%–or $282 billion more than it was at the beginning of March. They now have a combined net worth of $3.229 trillion. The initial stock market crash may have dented some net worths at first–for instance, that of Jeff Bezos, which dropped down to a mere $105 billion on March 12. But his riches have rebounded: As of April 15, his net worth has increased by $25 billion. These "pandemic profiteers," as a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, calls them, is just one piece of the wealth inequality puzzle in America. In the background is the fact that since 1980, the taxes paid by billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, dropped 79%. "We're reading about benevolent billionaires sharing .0001% of their wealth with their fellow humans in this crisis, but in fact they've been rigging the tax rules to reduce their taxes for decades–money that could have been spent building a better public health infrastructure," says Chuck Collins [of] the Institute for Policy Studies and coauthor of the new report, titled "Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, and Pandemic Profiteers." Another key finding of the report is that after the 2008 financial crisis, it took less than 30 months for billionaire wealth to return to its pre-meltdown levels. That wealth then quickly exceeded pre-2008 levels. But as of 2019, the middle class in America has not even yet recovered to the level of its 2007 net worth.
Note: This New York Post article shows how 43,000 millionaires in the U.S. will receive a "stimulus" gift averaging $1.6 million each. At the same time, this Reuters article claims that the coronavirus lockdown could plunge half a billion worldwide into poverty. And this BBC article warns of potential massive famines. So who is this lockdown really serving? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
Getting audited by the IRS is increasingly less certain. An audit is about half as likely as it was five years ago. Even so, some groups face higher audit rates than others. The tax agency is auditing fewer individual taxpayers not because we’re more honest, but because the IRS is working with fewer employees. The agency’s workforce has dropped from 94,000 workers in 2010 to roughly 78,000 in the most recent fiscal year, according to IRS data. With fewer agents available to perform audits, the agency’s audit rate has been whittled to 0.45% of individual returns in fiscal 2019, the IRS said. That compares with an audit rate of 0.9% in the fiscal 2014. Two types of taxpayers are more likely to draw the attention of the IRS: the rich and the poor, according to IRS data of audits by income range. Poor taxpayers, or those earning less than $25,000 annually, have an audit rate of 0.69% — more than 50% higher than the overall audit rate. Low-income taxpayers are more likely to get audited than any other group, except Americans with incomes of more than $500,000. The least likely group to get audited? That would be upper-middle-class households with an annual income of $100,000 to $200,000. Low-income households are more likely to get audited than some wealthier taxpayers ... due to the IRS checking for fraud and errors related to the Earned Income Tax Credit. Americans with annual incomes of more than $10 million have enjoyed a 75% decline in audit rates since 2013.
By the time Lehman Brothers filed for the largest bankruptcy in American history on Sept. 15, 2008, the country had been navigating stormy global financial waters for more than a year. Throughout the mess, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury had been permitting the largest banks in the country to funnel as much cash as they wanted to their shareholders ― even as it became clear those same banks could not pay their debts. Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner ... didn’t really rescue the banking system. They transformed it into an unaccountable criminal syndicate. Since the crash, the biggest Wall Street banks have been caught laundering drug money, violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and Cuba, bribing foreign government officials, making illegal campaign contributions to a state regulator and manipulating the market for U.S. government debt. Citibank, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and UBS even pleaded guilty to felonies for manipulating currency markets. Not a single human being has served a day in jail for any of it. As a percentage of each family’s overall wealth, the poorer you were, the more you lost in the crash. The top 1 percent of U.S. households ultimately captured more than half of the economic gains over the course of the Obama years, while the bottom 99 percent never recovered their losses from the crash. The result has been a predictable and terrifying resurgence of authoritarian politics unseen since the Second World War.
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