Income Inequality News StoriesExcerpts of Key Income Inequality News Stories in Major Media
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[California] Gov. Jerry Brown has issued more than 1,100 pardons and commuted more than 150 sentences since taking office in 2011 - far more than have his recent predecessors. The governor’s intervention creates a new pathway to justice for people serving long prison sentences under some of the nation’s harshest sentencing laws. His action moves California away from the brutality of mass incarceration and toward a renewed focus on rehabilitation and redemption. I know well the power of hope in the darkness behind prison walls. In 2012, I was released after serving 24 years of a life sentence. Now I lead the Hope and Redemption Team, an initiative funded by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide rehabilitative programming inside seven state prisons. Our model is unique. Every member of our full-time staff is a former lifer who has served decades of time and is now a living example of redemption. Success stories rarely make the news, but I see them every day. Graduates of our program and job-readiness training offered by the Anti-Recidivism Coalition have earned their release and built careers in the building and construction trades, prison ministry, higher education, entertainment and tech. Trained in violence prevention, they go into juvenile halls and work with youth to break the cycle of incarceration before it begins. They are contributing to society and making communities stronger and safer - things that prison can never accomplish.
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The average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s; it now stands at 2,349 square feet. Whether it's a McMansion in a wealthy neighborhood, or a bigger, cheaper house in the exurbs, the move toward ever large homes has been accelerating for years. Consider: Back in the 1950s and '60s, people thought it was normal for a family to have one bathroom, or for two or three growing boys to share a bedroom. Well-off people summered in tiny beach cottages. Now, many of those cottages have been replaced with bigger houses. Six-room apartments in cities like New York or Chicago have been combined. Is it wealth? Is it greed? Or are there more subtle things going on? "Big picture is, they are fueling the local economy," says Pat Trunzo, a local builder. Trunzo says there's a different mindset among the wealthy today, compared to when his father started the family business. "Most of the big houses were visible from the road," he says. Now ... the wealthy "want their own private little enclave. And they don't even want the general public to know that they are there." For Trunzo, it's just a bit strange. But for John Stilgoe, a professor ... at Harvard University, it's emblematic. "The big house represents the atomizing of the American family," he says. "Each person not only has his or her own television - each person has his or her own bathroom. The family members rarely have to interact. And the notion of compromise is simply out one of the very many windows these houses sport."
Note: The year after this article was published, big banks were profiting immensely from record numbers of home foreclosures. The year after that, Wall Street was given a massive taxpayer-funded bailout.
On Saturday, September 13th, 2008, the world was about to end. The New York Federal Reserve was a zoo. The crowd included future Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then-Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Hank Paulson, the representatives of multiple regulatory offices, and the CEOs of virtually every major bank in New York. In the twin collapses of top-five investment bank Lehman Brothers and insurance giant AIG, Wall Street saw a civilization-imperiling ball of debt hurtling its way. The legend of that meeting ... is that the tough-minded bank honchos found a way to scrape up just enough cash to steer the debt-comet off course. The plan included a federal bailout of incompetent AIG, along with key mergers – Bank of America buying Merrill, Barclays swallowing the sinking hull of Lehman, etc. The legend is bull. Accurate chronicles of the crisis period [include] the just-released Financial Exposure by Elise Bean of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The crisis response dramatically accelerated two huge problems. First, we made Too Big To Fail worse by making the companies even bigger and more dangerous through ... state-aided mergers. In the next crisis, letting losers lose will be even more unimaginable. Secondly, an already-serious economic inequality issue became formalized. The people responsible for the crisis weren’t just saved, but made beneficiaries of another decade of massive unearned profits.
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.
The combined wealth of the world’s millionaires and billionaires has hit $70.2 trillion, reaching a new record for collective wealth among the world’s richest, Capgemini revealed on Tuesday in its annual World Wealth Report. The research firm said that it was sixth-straight year of high-net-worth individuals adding more cash to their coffers. The collective wealth was more than double the $32.8 trillion in wealth the world’s richest people had in 2008. The study defines a high-net-worth individual as someone who has assets of $1 million or more. That sum needs to be available to invest and cannot include a primary residence and collectibles, among other products. The U.S. has the most wealthy people in the world with 5,285 individuals hitting the mark of a high-net-worth individual. Japan and Germany landed in second and third place with 3,162 and 1,365 wealthy people, respectively. In its evaluation of the world’s wealthiest people, Capgemini analyzed how their wealth is dispersed among asset classes. It found that 30.9% of their wealth is kept in equities and 27.2% in cash and cash equivalents. Another 16.8% of their wealth resides in real estate. Additionally, Capgemini found that high-net-worth individuals are investing in cryptocurrency more than ever. More than 71% of younger high-net-worth individuals place a high importance on getting cryptocurrency information from their wealth managers, compared to 13% of those aged 60 and over.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded. The report ... used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system. The peer-reviewed study ... says: "Economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence." Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying organisations: "When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it." The politics of average Americans and affluent Americans sometimes does overlap. This is merely a coincidence, the report says. The theory of "biased pluralism" that the Princeton and Northwestern researchers believe the US system fits holds that policy outcomes "tend to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations."
Note: Note: Watch an excellent six minute video showing how corruption in the US is legal. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
CEOs at the 350 largest U.S. companies received 312 times as much in compensation as typical employees in 2017, according to a study released Thursday. The average chief executive received $18.9 million last year, a 17.6 percent increase from 2016, as the wages of a typical worker rose just 0.3 percent, according to research by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank. The highest CEO-to-worker pay ratio ever recorded is 344-to-1, in 2000. In 1965, it was 20-to-1. In 1989, it was 58-to-1. "CEO compensation has grown far faster than stock prices or corporate profits," EPI said in an online summary of the findings. "CEO compensation rose by 979 percent [based on stock options granted] or 1,070 percent [based on stock options realized] between 1978 and 2017. ... Higher CEO pay does not reflect correspondingly higher output or better firm performance. Exorbitant CEO pay therefore means that the fruits of economic growth are not going to ordinary workers."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
Corporate profits are booming, but average wages haven’t budged. In the early 1980s, large American companies sent less than half their earnings to shareholders, spending the rest on their employees and other priorities. But between 2007 and 2016, large American companies dedicated 93% of their earnings to shareholders. Because the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households own 84% of American-held shares, the obsession with maximizing shareholder returns effectively means America’s biggest companies have dedicated themselves to making the rich even richer. In the four decades after World War II, shareholders on net contributed more than $250 billion to U.S. companies. But since 1985 they have extracted almost $7 trillion. That’s trillions of dollars in profits that might otherwise have been reinvested in the workers who helped produce them. Before “shareholder value maximization” ideology took hold, wages and productivity grew at roughly the same rate. But since the early 1980s, real wages have stagnated even as productivity has continued to rise. Workers aren’t getting what they’ve earned. Companies also are setting themselves up to fail. Retained earnings were once the foundation for long-term investments. But from 1990 to 2015, nonfinancial U.S. companies invested trillions less than projected, funneling earnings to shareholders instead. This underinvestment handcuffs U.S. enterprise and bestows an advantage on foreign competitors. We should insist on a new deal.
Note: The above was written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in conjunction with her introduction of the "Accountable Capitalism Act". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and income inequality.
With few exceptions, today’s populist insurgents are more concerned with immigration and sovereignty than with the top rate of income tax. This disconnect may be more than an oddity. It may be a sign of the corrupting influence of inequality on democracy. Rather than straightforwardly increasing pressure on politicians to do something about skewed income distributions ... rising inequality might instead boost the power of the rich, thus enabling them to counter the popular will. Research in political science gives substance to the impression that America’s rich wield outsize influence. The relation between concentrated wealth and the political power of the rich is scarcely limited to political spending, or to America. The rich have many means to shape public opinion: financing nominally apolitical think-tanks, for instance, or buying media outlets. Although their power may sometimes be used to influence the result of a particular vote, it is often deployed more subtly, to shape public narratives about which problems deserve attention. Rising inequality ... is associated with political agendas more focused on matters related to “social order”, such as crime and immigration. Issues such as economic justice are crowded out. As their wealth increases, [the rich] have a greater ability to press politicians to emphasise some topics rather than others. The rich are powerful, but not all-powerful. If political leaders tried it, they might well find that redistribution is a winner at the ballot box.
More than 40 nations are proposing to boost their 'bioeconomy' - the part of the economy based in biology and the biosciences. Around US$2 trillion of products in agriculture and forestry, food, bioenergy, biotechnology and green chemistry were exported worldwide in 2014, amounting to 13% of world trade, up from 10% in 2007. These sectors are central to at least half of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from food security to ensuring energy access and health. But conflicting national priorities make it hard to align bioeconomy policies to meet the SDGs on a global scale. Ecological sustainability is a prime concern in rich and industrializing countries; inclusive rural development and equitable sharing of resources is central in developing countries. Decisions made in one place may be felt elsewhere. A global bioeconomy must rebuild natural capital and improve the quality of life for a growing world population. It should balance managing common goods, such as air, water and soil, with the economic expectations of people. Three types of innovation will be needed: technological (such as systems to reduce emissions), organizational (changes in institutional behaviour) and social (such as job creation).
Note: For an excellent, more recent discussion on the global bioeconomy, see this informative article.
The rich are getting a lot richer and doing so a lot faster. Personal wealth around the globe reached $201.9 trillion last year, a 12 percent gain from 2016 and the strongest annual pace in the past five years, Boston Consulting Group said in a report released Thursday. Booming equity markets swelled fortunes, and investors outside the U.S. got an exchange-rate bonus as most major currencies strengthened against the greenback. The growing ranks of millionaires and billionaires now hold almost half of global personal wealth, up from slightly less than 45 percent in 2012, according to the report. In North America, which had $86.1 trillion of total wealth, 42 percent of investable capital is held by people with more than $5 million in assets. Investable assets include equities, investment funds, cash and bonds.
Note: Read an intriguing CNBC article on the good habits of the rich that help them to the top. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
This is the first year that businesses are required to disclose the ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay in their annual proxies, due to a provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms passed during the Obama administration. The AFL-CIO's annual Executive PayWatch database, released Tuesday, compiled that data and shows that in many cases, the pay for top executives is hundreds — or even thousands — of times that of the median worker at their companies. The largest pay gap for proxies released so far in 2018 ... belongs to Mattel (MAT), according to the AFL-CIO. But companies will continue to release their pay ratios in SEC filings in coming months, so any superlatives are subject to change. The AFL-CIO said it will keep updating its database as the relevant documents are filed. Mattel CEO Margo Georgiadis was awarded almost $31.3 million in 2017. Meanwhile, the median worker at the company, earned $6,271. The ratio? 4,987 to 1. Mattel is followed by McDonald's (MCD), where CEO Steve Easterbrook, who earned nearly $21.8 million last year, made 3,101 times as much as the company's median employee. The newly available pay ratios also highlight exactly how much standard workers earn. Amazon disclosed that the median pay for its employees was just $28,446 in 2017.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
About five decades ago, the core values that make America great began to bring America down. The First Amendment became a tool for the wealthy to put a thumb on the scales of democracy. America’s rightly celebrated dedication to due process was used as an instrument to block government from enforcing job-safety rules ... and otherwise protecting the unprotected. Election reforms ... wound up undercutting democracy. Ingenious financial and legal engineering turned our economy ... into a casino with only a few big winners. Distinctly American ideas became the often unintended instruments for splitting the country into two classes: the protected and the unprotected. The protected overmatched, overran and paralyzed the government. The unprotected were left even further behind. Income inequality has soared: Middle-class wages have been nearly frozen for the last four decades, while earnings of the top 1% have nearly tripled. For adults in their 30s, the chance of earning more than their parents dropped to 50% from 90% just two generations earlier. Many of the most talented, driven Americans used what makes America great - the First Amendment, due process, financial and legal ingenuity, free markets and free trade, meritocracy, even democracy itself - to chase the American Dream. And they won it, for themselves. Then, in a way unprecedented in history, they were able to consolidate their winnings ... and pull up the ladder so more could not share in their success or challenge their primacy.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaking at a policy forum here Tuesday, identified a singular roadblock to achieving success on a host of progressive policies. It’s American oligarchy. Sanders ... argued that the small number of multi-billionaires who now have power over the country’s economic, political and social life is “one issue out there which is so significant and so pervasive that, unless we successfully confront it, it will be impossible to succeed on any of these other important issues.” The solution, he said, is not only ending voter suppression, “extreme gerrymandering” and overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which helped pave the way for super PACs, but moving toward automatic voter registration. He called for Wall Street, billionaires and big corporations to start paying their “fair share” in taxes, and for “substantially” increasing the estate tax. The annual conference ... was billed in part as an opportunity for speakers to “preview and sharpen the best arguments for rejecting far-right conservatism and for enacting progressive policies” at all levels of government. During his speech Tuesday, Sanders ... said the current “grotesque level” of income and wealth inequality is immoral and causing “massive suffering.”
The first comprehensive study of the massive pay gap between the US executive suite and average workers has found that the average CEO-to-worker pay ratio has now reached 339 to 1, with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1. The study, titled "Rewarding Or Hoarding?," was published [by] US congressman Keith Ellison. Just the summary makes for sober reading. In 188 of the 225 companies in the report’s database, a single chief executive’s pay could be used to pay more than 100 workers; the average worker at 219 of the 225 companies studied would need to work at least 45 years to earn what their CEO makes in one. “Now we know why CEOs didn’t want this data released,” says Ellison, who championed the implementation of the pay ratio disclosure rule as it was written into the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill of 2010. “I knew inequality was a great problem in our society but I didn’t understand quite how extreme it was.” The requirements, long resisted by some of the largest US companies, simply tells companies to identify a median worker and then calculate how much the CEO makes in comparison to that person. According to a recent Bloomberg analysis of 22 major world economies, the average CEO-worker pay gap in the US far outpaces that of other industrialized nations. The average US CEO makes more than four times his or her counterpart in the other countries analyzed. Ellison said the data remains imperfect, as companies are still able to exclude contracted workers from their reporting.
A federal appeals court ruled Monday that employers cannot justify paying a woman less than a man doing similar work because of her salary history - a move advocates say will help close the wage gap between the sexes. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit sided with the California math consultant at the center of Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education, which argued that considering prior compensation when setting a worker’s pay perpetuates gender disparities and defies the spirit of the Equal Pay Act. In the United States, women earn an average of 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. This is a leap from the 1980 figure (60.2 cents for every dollar), but the chasm hasn’t narrowed much over the last 15 years, and it tends to be worse for women of color. Black women earn about 63 percent of what white men make, and the share is 67 percent for Hispanic women. Ariane Hegewisch, a labor economist ... said women, on average, are still paid less than their male counterparts in most industries. Companies that determine a worker’s value based on prior pay, she said, exacerbate the problem.
More than $8 of every $10 of wealth created last year went to the richest 1%. That's according to a new report from Oxfam International, which estimates that the bottom 50% of the world's population saw no increase in wealth. Oxfam says the trend shows that the global economy is skewed in favor of the rich, rewarding wealth instead of work. "The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system," said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. The head of the advocacy group argued that the people who "make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food" are being exploited in order to enrich corporations and the super wealthy. The study, released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, was produced using data from Credit Suisse's (CS) Global Wealth Databook. Oxfam said Monday that it is time for the global elite to stop talking about inequality and start changing their ways. "It's hard to find a political or business leader who doesn't say they are worried about inequality. It's even harder to find one who is doing something about it," said Byanyima. Oxfam said that governments should focus on policies that would lead to fairer distribution of wealth and stronger workers' rights.
The CEO of Marathon Petroleum, Gary Heminger, took home an astonishing 935 times more pay than his typical employee in 2017. One of Marathon’s gas station workers would have to toil more than nine centuries to make as much as Heminger grabbed in just one year. Employees of at least five other US firms would have to work even longer – more than a millennium – to catch up with their top bosses. These companies include the auto parts maker Aptiv (CEO-worker pay ratio: 2,526 to 1), the temp agency Manpower (2,483 to 1), amusement park owner Six Flags (1,920 to 1), Del Monte Produce (1,465 to 1), and apparel maker VF (1,353 to 1). These revelations come thanks to a new federal regulation that requires publicly traded US corporations to disclose, for the first time ever, how much their chief executives are making compared with their median workers. The disclosures are just now starting to flow in. Ever since 2010, the year Congress plugged a ratio disclosure mandate into the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, corporate lobbyists have been scheming to delay and repeal that mandate’s implementation. But responsible investors and other activists rallied and kept the mandate in place. The new ratios offer a benchmark for corporate greed that exposes exactly which firms are sharing the wealth their employees create and which aren’t, knowledge we can use to impose consequences on the corporations doing the most to make the United States more unequal.
The global economy created a record number of billionaires last year, exacerbating inequality amid a weakening of workers’ rights and a corporate push to maximize shareholder returns, charity organization Oxfam International said in a new report. The world now has 2,043 billionaires. The group of mostly men saw its wealth surge by $762 billion, which is enough money to end extreme poverty seven times over, according to Oxfam. According to separate data compiled by Bloomberg, the top 500 billionaires’ net worth grew 24% to $5.38 trillion in 2017, while the world’s richest person, Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, saw a gain of $33.7 billion. “The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited.” Oxfam published the report as global leaders, chief executives and bankers arrive in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Noting that many of the world’s elite say they’re concerned about income inequality, the charity said most governments are “shamefully failing” to improve the matter. Oxfam called on governments to limit shareholder and executive returns, while ensuring workers receive a living wage. It also recommended eliminating the gender pay gap and raising taxes on the wealthy, among other suggestions.
The cumulative net worth of senators and House members jumped by one-fifth in the two years before the start of this Congress, outperforming the typical American’s improved fortunes as well as the solid performance of investment markets during that time. The total wealth of all current members was at least $2.43 billion when the 115th Congress began, 20 percent more than the collective riches of the previous Congress, a significant gain during a period when both the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose slightly less than 10 percent. Beyond that grand total, the median minimum net worth (meaning half are worth more, half less) of today’s senators and House members was $511,000 at the start of this Congress, an upward push of 16 percent over just two years – and quintuple the median net worth of an American household, which the Federal Reserve pegged at $97,300 in 2016. The financial disparity between those who try to govern and those who are governed is almost certainly even greater than that. Members of Congress are not required to make public the value of their residences and their contents, which are the principal assets of most Americans. Nor are they required to reveal their other assets and debts to the penny, or even close – instead using 11 broad categories of value ... that do a comprehensive job of obscuring what each member is precisely worth.
Note: The above article fails to mention that laws against insider trading do not apply to members of Congress. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.