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Income Inequality News Stories

Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable news media sources. If any link fails to function, a paywall blocks full access, or the article is no longer available, try these digital tools.

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Down With the Corporate Price-Gougers Ripping Us Off!
2024-02-02, Common Dreams
Posted: 2024-02-19 21:35:53
https://www.commondreams.org/opinion/corporate-greed-inflation-price-gouging

Our new report for the Groundwork Collaborative finds that corporate profits accounted for more than half — 53 percent — of inflation from April to September 2023. That’s an astronomical percentage. Corporate profits drove just 11 percent of price growth in the four decades prior to the pandemic. Businesses have been quick to blame rising costs on supply chain shocks from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. But two years later, our economy has mostly returned to normal. In some cases, companies’ costs to make things and stock shelves have actually decreased. A recent survey from the Richmond Fed and Duke University revealed that 60 percent of companies plan to hike prices this year by more than they did before the pandemic, even though their costs have moderated. Corporations across industries, from housing to groceries and used cars, are juicing their profit margins even as the cost of doing business goes down. Since the summer of 2021, Groundwork began listening in on hundreds of corporate earnings calls where we heard CEO after CEO boasting about their ability to raise prices on consumers. Now we hear something slightly different: CEOs crowing about keeping their prices high while their costs go down. PepsiCo raised its prices on snacks and beverages by roughly 15 percent twice in the last year while bragging to shareholders that their profit margins will grow as input costs come down.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.


How Wealthy Corporations Use Investment Agreements to Extract Millions From Developing Countries
2024-01-25, ScheerPost
Posted: 2024-02-19 21:33:27
https://scheerpost.com/2024/01/25/how-wealthy-corporations-use-investment-agr...

When Rafael Correa entered Ecuador’s presidency in 2007, the nation faced an opportunity and a challenge. Ecuador’s economy depended on oil, and global crude prices were near a record high. Much of the oil was extracted by foreign companies ... as prices surged more wealth began flowing overseas. Soon after taking office, Correa increased a recently enacted windfall tax on oil companies. The idea was to use the tax as leverage to extract better terms from the companies. Within months, two oil companies working as partners—the independent Anglo-French firm Perenco and Burlington Resources, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips—ceased paying the tax and sued the government through a system of international tribunals known as investor state dispute settlements, or ISDS. The system allows foreign investors to sue governments before tribunals outside the jurisdiction of national courts. Perenco and Burlington [convinced] arbitrators in two separate tribunals to award the companies more than $800 million. Critics say the ISDS system gives corporations an exclusive, parallel justice system that elevates foreign interests above human rights and environmental concerns. The vast majority of cases have been brought by companies based in North America or Europe against governments in Latin America, Africa and Asia, prompting many critics to liken the ISDS system to a form of market-based colonialism that continues to extract wealth from the Global South.

Note: According to the analysis in the article, fossil fuel companies and investors filed one in five of 1,720 claims since the 1970s, and "have been awarded at least $82.8 billion in compensation from governments." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Source Who Revealed How Taxes Steal for the Rich Rewarded With Five Years in Prison
2024-02-02, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
Posted: 2024-02-19 21:29:41
https://fair.org/home/source-who-revealed-how-taxes-steal-for-the-rich-reward...

Because of Charles Littlejohn, we know that former President Donald Trump and a whole bunch of other rich people pay next to nothing in taxes. Littlejohn, a former consultant at the Internal Revenue Service, leaked these tax returns. For leaking this sensitive information, Littlejohn has been sentenced to five years in federal prison, the maximum jail term. Littlejohn’s lawyers (Bloomberg, 1/18/24) had argued that he had acted “out of a deep, moral belief that the American people had a right to know the information and sharing it was the only way to effect change.” Littlejohn now joins people like Reality Winner (New York Times, 8/23/18) and Chelsea Manning (NPR, 1/17/17), security and military-sector leakers who put their freedom on the line to disclose government secrets they felt should be a matter of the public record. The fact of the matter is that investigative journalism can only happen because of leakers who take great risks. Adrian Schoolcraft, an NYPD officer who provided the Village Voice (5/4/10) with evidence of statistics manipulation, felt the wrath of government power when he was eventually forced into a psychiatric ward (Chief, 10/5/15). Edward Snowden, who provided the Guardian (6/11/13) with details about widespread NSA surveillance, is still in exile in Russia as a result of his decision to be a whistleblower. By revealing what the rich can legally get away with, [Littlejohn] was demonstrating that we live in an increasingly divided society.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


While Inflation Beat The Post-Pandemic Economy, Billionaires Beat Inflation 3 Times Over
2024-01-15, Huffington Post
Posted: 2024-01-29 14:23:57
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/inflation-economy-2023-billionaires-in...

All billionaires’ wealth has grown three times faster than the rate of inflation since before the Covid pandemic, according to a new report. That means they’re 34% richer than they were in 2020, the anti-poverty charity Oxfam International has claimed. Meanwhile, the cost of living crisis for the majority of the global population has risen due to inflation, food prices around the world increasing by 21% to 50% between 2022 and 2023. The five richest men in the world have seen their personal wealth double in three years – all while five billion people around the world found themselves getting poorer. The richest 1% own 43% of all global financial assets, according to Oxfam’s findings. In the UK, the richest 1% own 33% of all financial assets. Seven out of 10 of the world’s biggest corporations also have a billionaire as CEO or principle shareholder. The worth of these companies exceeds the combined GDPs of all countries in Africa and Latin America. In the last three years, the poorest 60% (close to five billion people) around the world have lost money – a figure calculated from the UBS Global Wealth Report and the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Data book 2019. Average real wages for nearly 800 million workers have fallen across 52 countries in the same time frame the billionaires have been building on their personal wealth. Governments worldwide are making deliberate political choices that enable and encourage this distorted concentration of wealth.

Note: The COVID pandemic was extremely profitable for billionaires. At least 75 federal lawmakers were financially invested in COVID vaccines, treatments, and tests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.


America's poverty rate soared last year. Children were among the worst hit.
2023-09-12, CBS News
Posted: 2023-10-03 15:29:03
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/poverty-rate-census-income/

Millions of American families fell into poverty last year as the well of government-funded pandemic aid dried up and incomes shrank, according to new data from the U.S. Census. Children were particularly hard-hit, with the poverty rate for kids doubling compared with 2021. The rise in poverty amounts to an increase of 15.3 million people around the U.S. living in poverty. Rising inflation [has] hobbled many households. Last year also marked the end of all pandemic-era benefits that helped families stay afloat during the health crisis, such as stimulus checks and the Child Tax Credit, which distributed as much as $300 per child in cash payments. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which measures whether people have enough resources to cover their needs, was 12.4% for U.S. households in 2022, an increase of 4.6 percentage points from a year earlier, the Census said on Tuesday. The child poverty rate, as measured by the SPM, jumped from a historic low of 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022, the Census said. That's the largest change in child poverty since the Census began tracking the SPM in 2009, Census officials said. If the expanded Child Tax Credit had been renewed, about 3 million additional children would have been kept out of poverty last year. U.S. households also earned less last year, the Census said. The median household income in 2022 was $74,580, a decline of 2.3% from 2021 and the third year in a row that incomes have dipped. 

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.


A Canadian study gave $7,500 to homeless people. Here’s how they spent it.
2023-09-02, Vox
Posted: 2023-09-18 14:05:43
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21528569/homeless-poverty-cash-transfer-ca...

Ray, a man in his 50s, used to live in an emergency homeless shelter in Vancouver, Canada. Then he participated in a study that changed his life. The newly published, peer reviewed PNAS study, conducted by the charity Foundations for Social Change in partnership with the University of British Columbia, was fairly simple. It identified 50 people in the Vancouver area who had become homeless in the past two years. In spring 2018, it gave them each one lump sum of $7,500 (in Canadian dollars). And it told them to do whatever they wanted with the cash. Over the next year, the study followed up with the recipients periodically, asking how they were spending the money and what was happening in their lives. The recipients of the cash transfers did not increase spending on drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, but did increase spending on food, clothes, and rent. What’s more, they moved into stable housing faster and saved enough money to maintain financial security over the year of follow-up. “Counter to really harmful stereotypes, we saw that people made wise financial choices,” Claire Williams, the CEO of Foundations for Social Change, [said]. What’s more ... giving out the cash transfers in the Vancouver area actually saved the broader society money. Enabling 50 people to move into housing faster saved the shelter system $8,277 per person over the year, for a total savings of $413,850. That’s more than the value of the cash transfers, which means the transfers pay for themselves.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


No app, no entry: How the digital world is failing the non tech-savvy
2023-08-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2023-09-03 14:05:45
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/aug/20/no-app-no-entry-how-the-di...

The cashless society is effectively already a reality for most of us, but there remains a minority for whom it represents a continuing headache. The government last week told high street banks that they must offer access to cash machines within three miles of customers after the closure of thousands of branches had reduced the number of ATMs. There are also an estimated to be 1.3 million adults in this country who are “unbanked” – ie do not have a bank account. For them, something as mundane as parking a car is increasingly fraught – a quarter of London councils have removed pay and display parking machines in favour of smartphone-centred apps. The shiny, bright future of full computerisation looks very much like a dystopia to someone who either doesn’t understand it or have the means to access it. And almost by definition, the people who can’t access the digitalised world are seldom visible, because absence is not easy to see. What is apparent is that improved efficiency doesn’t necessarily lead to greater wellbeing. Technology doesn’t have to be dehumanising, but if it’s to avoid that outcome it has to be human-focused, not just consumer-focused, and in particular not just digital-consumer-focused. Cash, like printed air tickets or indeed train tickets, will no doubt one day soon seem as anachronistic as the barter system. In the meantime the transition should focus on ensuring that no one is discounted because they are too old, too poor or too disabled to matter to the gods of efficiency.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Rich countries ‘trap’ poor nations into relying on fossil fuels
2023-08-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2023-08-28 16:33:23
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/aug/21/rich-countries-tra...

The pressure to repay debts is forcing poor nations to continue investing in fossil fuel projects to make their repayments on what are usually loans from richer nations and financial institutions, according to new analysis from the anti-debt campaigners Debt Justice and partners in affected countries. The group is calling for creditors to cancel all debts for countries facing crisis – and especially those linked to fossil fuel projects. “High debt levels are a major barrier to phasing out fossil fuels for many global south countries,” said Tess Woolfenden, a senior policy officer at Debt Justice. “Many countries are trapped exploiting fossil fuels to generate revenue to repay debt while, at the same time, fossil fuel projects often do not generate the revenues expected and can leave countries further indebted than when they started. This toxic trap must end.” According to the report, the debt owed by global south countries has increased by 150% since 2011 and 54 countries are in a debt crisis, having to spend five times more on repayments than on addressing the climate crisis. Sharda Ganga, the director of the Surinamese civil society group Projekta, said ... “The reality is that this is the new form of colonialism – we have exchanged one ruler for the rule of our creditors who basically already own what is ours. The difference is this time we signed the deal ourselves.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Why Americans Feel More Pain
2023-05-03, New York Times
Posted: 2023-06-18 22:48:49
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/03/opinion/chronic-pain-america-working-class...

Ever since Bobbie Wert was 8 years old, her stomach has ached. Wert is part of a vast and mysterious panorama of pain that is increasing, sometimes with no obvious physical cause. And while chronic pain is a global problem, it is particularly puzzling in America. In other wealthy countries, it’s the elderly who report the most chronic pain, which makes some sense. But in the United States it’s the middle-aged — especially the jobless and people like Wert, who did not graduate from high school — who suffer the most. It is a plague on the less educated. All this raises the question: Is this physical suffering a canary in the coal mine warning us of larger dysfunction in our society? Chronic pain is not just a result of car accidents and workplace injuries but is also linked to troubled childhoods, loneliness, job insecurity and a hundred other pressures on working families. “People’s lives are coming apart, and this leads to huge increases in physical pain,” said Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize winner in economics who with Anne Case popularized the term “deaths of despair.” Americans die from deaths of despair — drugs, alcohol and suicide — at a rate of more than a quarter-million a year, and the number of walking wounded is far greater. Acute pain typically has a specific anatomical source — such as the shock you feel when you touch a hot stove — while chronic pain sometimes, not always, originates in the brain rather than the body.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.


America only had a handful of billionaires 40 years ago. We’re now creating ‘centibillionaires’–and unless we tax them, trillionaires
2023-04-05, Fortune
Posted: 2023-05-08 12:06:40
https://fortune.com/2023/04/05/america-billionaires-40-years-creating-centibi...

The centibillionaire club–those with over $100 billion in wealth–likely will be welcoming a new member soon. Forbes now estimates Michael Bloomberg’s wealth at $94.5 billion, making him the sixth richest American. If his wealth continues to grow at the rate it’s grown since 2013, Michael Bloomberg will join the centibillionaire club by the end of the year. At that point, he will be the 10th American to have reached that wealth level. Forty years ago, the mere billionaire club had just 13 members, and Daniel Ludwig, the richest American at the time, had a total wealth (adjusted for inflation) of $6.15 billion. Today, $1 billion of wealth in one person’s hands often means far too much political power, but that astounding amount of money is now considered a rounding error in the context of America’s largest fortunes. America’s 20 richest billionaires spent more than the entire Biden campaign on the 2020 elections. According to political scientists Jeffrey Winters and Benjamin Page, the political influence of each of the 400 richest Americans is 22,000 times that of the average member of the bottom 90%. What all Americans whose wealth has passed the $100 billion threshold have in common ... is tax avoidance. Between 2013 and 2018, none made federal income tax payments greater than 11% of their wealth growth–and all but two paid less than 5%. Even Ronald Reagan recognized that it’s “crazy” for a society to tax a bus driver at a higher rate than a millionaire.

Note: The pandemic response sharply increased the wealth of billionaires. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Neoliberalism as the U.S. Empire Declines
2023-04-18, LA Progressive (A popular Los Angeles Newspaper)
Posted: 2023-04-27 20:14:52
https://www.laprogressive.com/democracy/neoliberal-u-s-empire-declines

The neoliberal globalizing paradigm is now the old. Economic nationalism is the new. Neoliberal globalization ... celebrated the profits and growth brought to both private and state-owned/operated enterprises around the world. It downplayed or ignored the other sides of globalization: (1) growing income and wealth inequalities; (2) the shift of production from old to new centers of capitalism; and (3) faster growth of output and markets in new centers than old centers. Instead of a mostly private capitalist system (like that of the U.S. or UK) or a mostly state capitalist system (like that of the USSR), places like China and India produced hybrids. Strong national governments presided over coexisting large private and state sectors to maximize economic growth. The days of the U.S. dollar as the supreme global currency are numbered. U.S. supremacy in high-tech industries must already be shared with China’s high-tech industries. The U.S. empire’s decline raises the question of what comes next. The most interesting possibility and perhaps the likeliest is that China and the entire BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) grouping of nations will undertake the construction and maintenance of a new world economy. The war in Ukraine has already enhanced the prospects of such an outcome by strengthening the BRICS alliance. They have the population, resources, productive capacity, connections, and accumulated solidarity to be a new pole for world economic development.  

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Society has never produced so much food, yet we live in a world where only the rich get to be healthy
2023-02-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2023-02-26 22:28:49
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/16/society-has-never-produ...

According to the World Health Organization definition, 1.9 billion adults are considered overweight. Of these, more than 650 million people are classified as obese. In Australia, health authorities suggest being overweight is more dangerous to us than alcohol, and only second in “preventable health risk” to smoking. ABS health data claims 67% of Australian adults are overweight, an increase on 63.4% a decade ago. Last year, Australia’s former conservative government released a “National Obesity Strategy”, concerned Australia was facing health risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers. That government did recognise weight is influenced by complex “social, environmental, and economic factors”, but their framework of encouraging “healthy choices” as a remedy unhelpfully individualises a collective problem. First, shaming individuals into weight loss doesn’t work. 95% of weight loss attempts fail. Two-thirds of dieters regain the weight they lose. Second, the structural giveaway here is an admission that the poorest “experience the greatest burden of disease linked to excess weight”. Our societies have never produced so much food, yet we live in a capitalist perversion where fresh, healthy food – and the time to prepare it – are priced as a luxury, while highly processed items are inexpensive, easy and aggressively mass-marketed. It’s not a failure of collective willpower that’s jeopardising our health, but a diet of bad food that’s culturally familiar, low in nutrition and super available.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Look at how the 1% are doing right now, and tell me the system isn’t rigged
2023-01-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2023-02-13 14:06:51
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jan/23/system-rigged-inequalit...

According to Oxfam’s annual inequality report, released to coincide with the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, the richest 1% of people have captured nearly twice as much new wealth as the rest of the world combined since the pandemic. Their fortune soared by $26tn, increasing their share of new wealth from 50% to two-thirds. The breakdown of these figures exposes how on a global basis, extreme wealth is accumulated not by innovating or increasing production, but by taking advantage of rising prices and exploiting labour. This has been happening for a while, but the pandemic accelerated the trend. Rich people benefited from everything – every positive intervention from the state and negative impact of the crisis somehow still ended up increasing their wealth. They benefited from rising costs by using them as an alibi to charge higher-than-inflation prices, then distributing the rewards as dividends instead of higher wages. Food and energy corporations made a killing, making $306bn in windfall profits in 2022, then distributing 84% to shareholders. Wealthy people have used their wealth to purchase democracy, to warp democracy in their own interests. They’ve done that through a global template that involves lowering taxes, privatising formerly public attempts to deal with common problems, liquidating the spending that went into things like social services, and then putting that money into their own pockets. The system ... is rigged.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


How the richest shield themselves from danger — at our expense
2022-10-26, Washington Post
Posted: 2023-02-13 14:04:43
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/10/26/survival-richest-review-rus...

Douglas Rushkoff’s new book, “Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires,” opens with a surreal scene: For a fee equal to one-third of his annual salary as a professor, Rushkoff flies to a luxurious resort to advise five ultrawealthy men on how to survive the collapse of civilization. More terrifying than the men’s Hollywood-derived nightmares is their naive and profoundly antisocial response: They’d rather optimize their bunkers than work to avert the apocalypse. While few have the means to indulge dystopian fantasies so lavishly, the men are an extreme instance of a broader trend. Bunker sales in America are soaring, and the market now caters to a range of income levels, from $40,000 starter bunkers to a nearly $10 million Luxury Series “Aristocrat” that offers a pool and a bowling lane. Many people now seem fixated on stockpiling enough money to protect themselves from the rest of the world, rather than considering the sort of world they are creating by making money in these ways. Rushkoff ... calls this dynamic the “Insulation Equation.” Anyone who asks some version of the question — can I earn enough money doing X to insulate myself from the effects of doing X — is considering the Insulation Equation. The Insulation Equation is a provocative and illuminating concept, and Rushkoff devotes much of the book to tracing the manifestations and origins of a mind-set that seduces people into believing they can insulate themselves from harms they help create.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.


The US should break up monopolies – not punish working Americans for rising prices
2023-01-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2023-01-22 22:53:01
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jan/08/us-monopolies-inflation...

Job growth and wages are slowing. This is music to the ears of Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, because the Fed blames inflation on rising wages. The Fed has been increasing interest rates to slow the economy and thereby reduce the bargaining power of workers to get wage gains. But aren’t higher wages a good thing? The typical American worker’s wage has been stuck in the mud for four decades. Most of the gains from a more productive economy have been going to the top – to executives and investors. The richest 10% of Americans now own more than 90% of the value of shares of stock owned by Americans. Powell’s solution to inflation is to clobber workers even further. But if the demand for workers exceeds the supply, isn’t the answer to pay workers more? Not according to Powell and the Fed. Their answer is to continue to raise interest rates to slow the economy and put more people out of work, so workers can’t get higher wages. The Fed projects that as it continues to increase interest rates, unemployment will rise to 4.6% by the end of 2023 – resulting in more than 1m job losses. The problem isn’t that wages are rising. The real problem is that corporations have the power to pass those wage increases – along with record profit margins – on to consumers in the form of higher prices. If corporations had to compete vigorously for consumers, they wouldn’t be able to do this. Competitors would charge lower prices and grab those consumers away.

Note: The above was written by former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Call for new taxes on super-rich after 1% pocket two-thirds of all new wealth
2023-01-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2023-01-22 22:48:52
https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2023/jan/16/oxfam-calls-for-new-taxes-...

Oxfam has called for immediate action to tackle a post-Covid widening in global inequality after revealing that almost two-thirds of the new wealth amassed since the start of the pandemic has gone to the richest 1%. In [a] report to coincide with the annual gathering of the global elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the charity said the best-off had pocketed $26tn (£21tn) in new wealth up to the end of 2021. That represented 63% of the total new wealth, with the rest going to the remaining 99% of people. Oxfam said extreme concentrations of wealth led to weaker growth, corrupted politics and the media, corroded democracy and led to political polarisation. The report called on governments to introduce immediate one-off wealth levies on the richest 1%, together with windfall taxes to clamp down on profiteering during the global cost of living crisis. Subsequently, there should be a permanent increase in taxes on rich. In support of its call for redistribution of wealth, Oxfam said: Food and energy companies had more than doubled their profits in 2022, paying out $257bn to wealthy shareholders at a time when more than 800 million people were going hungry. Only 4 cents in every dollar of tax revenue came from wealth taxes, and half the world’s billionaires lived in countries with no inheritance tax. A tax of up to 5% on the world’s multimillionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7tn a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty, and fund a global plan to end hunger.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.


The US has a ruling class – and Americans must stand up to it
2022-09-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
Posted: 2022-09-26 22:05:44
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/02/the-us-has-a-ruling-cla...

The most important economic and political issues facing this country are the extraordinary levels of income and wealth inequality, the rapidly growing concentration of ownership, the long-term decline of the American middle class and the evolution of this country into oligarchy. We know how important these issues are because our ruling class works overtime to prevent them from being seriously discussed. We now have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the last hundred years. Wages ... are lower today than they were almost 50 years ago. When I was a kid growing up, most families were able to be supported by one breadwinner. Now an overwhelming majority of households need two paychecks to survive. Since 1975, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth in America that has gone in exactly the wrong direction. Over the past 47 years, according to the Rand Corporation, $50tn in wealth has been redistributed from the bottom 90% of American society to the top 1%, primarily because a growing percentage of corporate profits has been flowing into the stock portfolios of the wealthy and the powerful. During this terrible pandemic ... some 700 billionaires in America became nearly $2tn richer. Just three Wall Street firms (Blackrock, Vanguard and State Street) control assets of over $20tn and are the major stockholders in 96% of S&P 500 companies. In terms of media, some eight multinational media conglomerates control what we see, hear and read.

Note: The above was written by Sen. Bernie Sanders. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Just 2% of the richest Americans had their taxes audited in 2019, down from 16% in 2010
2022-05-17, CNBC News
Posted: 2022-09-13 02:53:19
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/17/super-wealthy-irs-tax-audits-plunge-over-deca...

The audit rate for Americans earning more than $5 million a year plunged to just over 2% in 2019 from over 16% in 2010, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog. The report estimated that taxpayers underreported their income tax by a combined $245 billion a year between 2011 and 2013, and said that "taxpayers are more likely to voluntarily comply with the tax laws if they believe their return may be audited." The main reason for the decline, according to the report, is a lack of IRS funding. In fiscal year 2021, the agency's budget was $11.9 billion – $200 million less than its 2010 budget. The IRS also has seen its staffing levels fall to the same levels as 1973. The decline in funding and auditors means that taxpayers, and especially the top earners, are far less likely to get caught underpaying their taxes than a decade ago. Overall audit rates for American taxpayers fell to 0.2% in 2019 from 0.9% in 2010. The wealthy are still audited at a higher rate than the general taxpayer population. Yet their audit rates have declined at a much higher rate. The audit rate for taxpayers earning between $5 million and $10 million fell to 1.4% from 13.5%. Those earning more than $10 million saw their audit rate fall to 3.9% in 2019 from 21.2% in 2010, while audit rates for $10 million-plus earners ticked up slightly for the 2017 and 2018 tax years due to a Treasury Department mandate to impose audit rates of at least 8% on those making $10 million or more.

Note: For more along these lines, see key news articles on the financial industry from reliable major media sources.


'The level of sneakiness with Americans hiding money abroad is staggering'
2022-07-22, Yahoo News
Posted: 2022-09-06 14:07:57
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/patrick-radden-keefe-americans-hiding-money-ab...

Whether dodging taxes or legal peril, wealthy Americans often succeed in concealing assets from the government by hiding their money in offshore bank accounts. Research from the IRS and a group of economists last year found that the top 1% of earners in the U.S. neglect to report 20% of their income — and that random audits almost never detect offshore accounts. Tax havens like Switzerland or the Cayman Islands have traditionally offered Americans a place to hide their assets because they fiercely guard financial privacy and have minimal to no taxes. Often, they also have laws that inhibit scrutiny from foreign tax officials. Prior to his latest book, [author Patrick Radden] Keefe published "Empire of Pain," which chronicled the billionaire Sackler family's connection to the nation's opioid epidemic. The Sacklers, the notorious family that owned the now bankrupt Purdue Pharma, reportedly have much of their wealth hidden in offshore accounts. An audit commissioned by Purdue showed the family withdrew more than $10 billion from their company during the opioid crisis, CNN reported in October 2020. They began drawing especially large amounts of money from the firm after paying $600 million in a 2007 plea deal with the Justice Department for misleading physicians and consumers about the opioid OxyContin, CNN reported. “The kind of sophistication of the whole industry of financial dissimulation ... such that nobody can put their hands on the money, is really interesting.” Keefe told Yahoo Finance.

Note: A 2015 Guardian newspaper article further describes how the US helps the super-rich hide assets. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


A large new study offers clues about how lower-income children can rise up the economic ladder.
2022-08-01, New York Times
Posted: 2022-08-08 17:48:14
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/01/briefing/economic-ladder-rich-poor-america...

Social scientists have made it a priority in recent years to understand upward mobility. Money itself is ... important. Other factors — like avoiding eviction, having access to good medical care and growing up in a household with two parents — may also make upward mobility more likely. Now there is another intriguing factor to add to the list, thanks to a study ... in the academic journal Nature: friendships with people who are not poor. “Growing up in a community connected across class lines improves kids’ outcome,” [said] Raj Chetty ... one of the study’s four principal authors. The study ... compares two otherwise similar children in lower-income households — one who grows up in a community where social contacts mostly come from the lower half of the socioeconomic distribution, and another who grows up in a community where social contacts mostly come from the upper half. The average difference between the two, in terms of their expected adult outcomes, is significant. It’s the same as the gap between a child who grows up in a family that makes $27,000 a year and one who grows up in a family that makes $47,000. There seem to be three main mechanisms by which cross-class friendships can increase a person’s chances of escaping poverty. The first is raised ambition: Social familiarity can give people a clearer sense of what’s possible. The second is basic information, such as how to apply to college and for financial aid. The third is networking, such as getting a recommendation for an internship.

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