Income Inequality News StoriesExcerpts of Key Income Inequality News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of income inequality news stories is usually updated once a week. 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.
A small core of super-rich individuals is responsible for the record sums cascading into the coffers of super PACs for the 2016 elections, a dynamic that harks back to the financing of presidential campaigns in the Gilded Age. Close to half the money - 41 percent - raised by the groups by the end of February came from just 50 mega-donors and their relatives, according to a Washington Post analysis. Donors this cycle have given more than $607 million to 2,300 super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations. That means super PAC money is on track to surpass the $828 million that the Center for Responsive Politics found was raised by such groups for the 2012 elections. The top 50 contributors together donated $248 million personally and through their privately held companies, or more than $4 out of every $10 raised by all super PACs. The last time political wealth was so concentrated was in 1896, when corporations and banking moguls helped McKinley, the Republican candidate, outspend Democratic rival William Jennings Bryan. Populist anger over how presidential races were financed led to a 1907 ban on corporations donating to federal campaigns. Forty years later, Congress prohibited unions and corporations from making independent expenditures in federal races. The picture dramatically changed in 2010, when the Supreme Court said in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations and unions could spend unlimited sums on politics.
Note: The "Koch Empire" alone plans to spend $889 million on US elections in 2016. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public perception. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
The top 50 U.S. companies have stored $1.4 trillion in tax havens, Oxfam America reported Thursday. Oxfam released its new report, “Broken at the Top,” ahead of Tax Day in the U.S. and shortly after of the Panama Papers leak to show the extent to which major corporations such as Pfizer, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Alphabet, Disney and Coca-Cola keep money in offshore funds. The use of over 1,600 subsidiaries lowered their global tax rate on $4 trillion of profit to an average of 26.5%, compared to the statutory minimum of 35%, according to Oxfam. Additionally, for every dollar of taxes these companies paid, they collectively received $27 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts - footed by American taxpayers. “The vast sums large companies stash in tax havens should be fighting poverty and rebuilding America’s infrastructure, not hidden offshore in Panama, Bahamas, or the Cayman Islands,” Oxfam America president Raymond Offenheiser said in a statement.
The Justice Department is asking local courts across the country to be wary of how they slap poor defendants with fines and fees. In a letter ... to the chief judges and court administrators in all 50 states, Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, and Lisa Foster, director of the Office for Access to Justice, wrote that illegal enforcement of fines and fees had been receiving increased attention. “Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape,” Gupta and Foster wrote. “Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared ... toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.” The White House and the department convened a summit on the issue in December. The Justice Department alleged in a recent lawsuit that officers in Ferguson, Mo., were violating citizens’ civil rights in part because their policing tactics were meant to generate revenue. The financial penalties - typically for minor misdemeanors, traffic infractions or violations of city code - disproportionately affect the poor, who cannot afford to pay immediately and are then hit with arrest warrants or additional penalties. Some towns [derive] 40 percent or more of their annual revenue from [these] petty fines and fees.
Note: Along with relying on municipal fines and fees that disproportionately impact the poor, some police departments simply steal from people when times get tough. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and income inequality.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report at 8:30 a.m.. [Daniel Nadler] sat at the kitchen table in his one-bedroom apartment ... as the software of his company, Kensho, scraped the data from the bureau’s website. Within two minutes, an automated Kensho analysis popped up on his screen. At 8:35 a.m., Kensho’s analysis would be made available to employees at Goldman Sachs. In addition to being a customer, Goldman is also Kensho’s largest investor. "People always tell me ... ‘I used to have a guy whose job it was to do nothing other than this one thing," Nadler said. Within a decade, he said, between a third and a half of the current employees in finance will lose their jobs to Kensho and other automation software. If jobs can be displaced at Goldman, they can probably be displaced even more quickly at other, less sophisticated companies, within the financial industry as well as without. In late 2013, two Oxford academics released a paper claiming that 47 percent of current American jobs are at "high risk" of being automated within the next 20 years. So far the burden of job losses is stopping just short of the executive suites, even as the gains in efficiency are worsening already troubling levels of income inequality.
The pernicious influence of "economic hit men" has spread around the globe. John Perkins revealed his first-hand experience of this violent and coercive phenomenon. Now, in The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, he brings this story of greed and corruption up to date. The treacherous cancer beneath the surface, which was revealed in the original Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, has ... spread from the economically developing countries to the United States and the rest of the world; it attacks the very foundations of democracy and the planet's life-support systems. Although this cancer has spread widely and deeply, most people still aren't aware of it; yet all of us are impacted by the collapse it has caused. It has become the dominant system of economics, government, and society today, [and] created a "death economy" - one based on wars or the threat of war, debt, and the rape of the earth's resources. Although the death economy is built on a form of capitalism, it is important to note that the word capitalism ... includes local farmers' markets as well as this very dangerous form of global corporate capitalism, controlled by the corporatocracy. Despite all the bad news and the attempts of modern-day robber barons to steal our democracy and our planet ... when enough of us perceive the true workings of this EHM system, we will take the individual and collective actions necessary to control the cancer and restore our health.
Note: Read a revealing seven-page summary of Economic Hit Man and spread the word!
Has Michael Moore gone soft? You might think so, making a snap judgment of Where to Invade Next, a ... documentary hellbent on seeing the best in people. Other people. Not us Americans. Moore sets up his film by daydreaming about a summons from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Instead of using Marines, use me," he pleads. As we watch a collage of America at its worst – bank scandals, stock frauds, housing foreclosures, black teens murdered by cops – Moore sets out to invade the world for bright ideas. In Italy, he meets a couple who get 30 days paid vacation each year with no loss in productivity. In France, Moore is astonished by school kids who are served nutritional food. On a visit to a Norway prison, the worst felons are treated with compassion, with sentences capped at 21 years, even for murderers. Yet the crime rate is low, as is recidivism. In Tunisia, women win free health care from a hidebound Islamist regime. And get a load of Portugal, where using drugs is not a crime, but rehab is offered to those who want it. A trip to Iceland finds that the bankers who brought economic ruin to their country are thrown in jail instead of being bailed out. Love him or hate his methods, Moore touches a nerve in Where to Invade Next. In a climactic remembrance at the Berlin Wall, he recalls a time when a corrupt regime was brought down by people willing to protest. What counted most were humanitarian principles, the same bedrock concepts that America was founded on. See, the joke's on us.
Politicians and business leaders gathering in the Swiss Alps this week face an increasingly divided world. Just 62 people ... own as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire world population and the richest 1 percent own more than the other 99 percent put together, anti-poverty charity Oxfam said on Monday. The wealth gap is widening faster than anyone anticipated, with the 1 percent overtaking the rest one year earlier than Oxfam had predicted only a year ago. Rising inequality and a widening trust gap between people and their political leaders are big challenges for the global elite as they converge on Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, which runs from Jan. 20 to 23. Edelman's annual "Trust Barometer" survey shows a record gap this year in trust between the informed publics and mass populations in many countries, driven by income inequality and divergent expectations of the future. The gap is the largest in the United States, followed by the UK, France and India. The next wave of technological innovation, dubbed the fourth industrial revolution and a focus of the Davos meeting, threatens further social upheaval as many traditional jobs are lost to robots. "Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate," the report says. It points to a "global spider's web" of tax havens that ensures wealth stays out of reach of ordinary citizens and governments.
Note: Read about the annual Davos forum and other more secretive meetings where global elites make decisions with far-reaching implications. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
Wealth inequality has grown to the stage where 62 of the world’s richest people own as much as the poorest half of humanity combined. The [new] research, conducted by the charity Oxfam, found that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population – 3.6 billion people – has fallen by 41 per cent, or a trillion US dollars, since 2010. While this group has become poorer, the wealth of the richest 62 people on the planet has increased by more than half a trillion dollars. The report, “An Economy for the 1%”, says the gap between the global richest and the global poorest has widened in just the last 12 months. In 2010, 388 people had the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity. In 2011, this fell to 177, [and] has continued to fall each year. Oxfam GB chief executive Mark Goldring said a crackdown on global tax havens was a necessary step towards ending the rampant global inequality. "World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action to ensure that those at the bottom get their fair share of economic growth. We need to end the era of tax havens which has allowed rich individuals and multinational companies to avoid their responsibilities to society," [he said].
Note: Read about reliable news articles on secretive meetings where global elites make decisions with far-reaching implications. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
According to public disclosures, by giving just 12 speeches to Wall Street banks, private equity firms, and other financial corporations, [Hillary] Clinton made $2,935,000 from 2013 to 2015. Clinton’s most lucrative year was 2013, right after stepping down as secretary of state. That year, she made $2.3 million for three speeches to Goldman Sachs and individual speeches to Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Fidelity Investments, Apollo Management Holdings, UBS, Bank of America, and Golden Tree Asset Managers. To put these numbers into perspective, compare them to lifetime earnings of the median American worker. In 2011, the Census Bureau estimated, that across all majors, a “bachelor’s degree holder can expect to earn about $2.4 million over his or her work life.” A Pew Research analysis published the same year estimated that a “typical high school graduate” can expect to make just $770,000 over the course of his or her lifetime. This means that in one year - 2013 - Hillary Clinton earned almost as much from 10 lectures to financial firms as most bachelor’s degree-holding Americans earn in their lifetimes — and nearly four times what someone who holds only a high school diploma could expect to make. The Associated Press notes that during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, Bill Clinton earned $17 million in talks to ... financial firms.
Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton and a professor of public policy at University of California, Berkeley, spent years warning of twin demons: Technology and globalization. Machines displaced ... workers whose routine jobs could be automated, and globalization meant the flight of manufacturing and service jobs to factories and call centers in emerging countries. The result was ever-widening inequality. In his latest book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few,” he’s changed his tune. While those two factors still play a role in growing inequality, he cites a new culprit: “the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.” [Reich explains], "Capitalism is based on trust. It’s impossible to have a system that works well and is based on billions of transactions if people don’t trust that others are going to fulfill their obligations, or they fear someone will take advantage of them or exploit them. That’s when a system moves from production to protection. Economists have been documenting inequality using various measures, but I haven’t seen much documentation of this issue of power. Political scientists and economists are [reluctant] to get into this field. Economists look at market power and monopolies, but the other areas I’ve talked about - this vicious cycle of compounded wealth and power that changes the rules of the game - economists are really not taking it on."
Note: Read how the market is rigged to grow inequality in this summary of a Robert Reich essay that recently appeared in Newsweek. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
The very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists. All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign. Operating largely out of public view - in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service - the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans. Two decades ago ... the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012 ... that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually. Some of the biggest current tax battles are being waged by some of the most generous supporters of 2016 candidates. Whatever tax rates Congress sets, the actual rates paid by the ultra-wealthy tend to fall over time as they exploit their numerous advantages.
Note: The IRS now conducts only half as many audits of the super-rich as it did five years ago. Over half of the money contributed so far to 2016 US presidential candidates has come from just 158 families. 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 US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite. So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page. This is not news, you say. Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it: "Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence." In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power. "A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time." On the other hand: 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. Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn't surprised by the survey's results. "American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country" he writes. "The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious 'electoral' 'democratic' countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now."
Note: Read an article by Robert Reich with excellent thoughts on this. Read also how "billionaire oligarchs" are becoming their own political party. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Half of all the money contributed so far to Democratic and Republican presidential candidates - $176 million - has come from just 158 families, along with the companies they own or control. Who are these people? According to the report, most of these big contributors live in exclusive neighborhoods where they have private security guards instead of public police officers, private health facilities rather than public parks and pools. Most send their kids and grand kids to elite private schools rather than public schools. They fly in private jets and get driven in private limousines rather than rely on public transportation. They don't have to worry about whether Social Security or Medicare will be there for them in their retirement because they've put away huge fortunes. It's doubtful that most of these 158 are contributing to these campaigns out of the goodness of their hearts. They're largely making investments, just the way they make other investments. And the success of these investments depends on whether their candidates get elected, and will lower their taxes even further, expand tax loopholes, shred health and safety and environmental regulations so their companies can make even more money, and cut Social Security and Medicare and programs for the poor - and thereby allow these 158 and others like them to secede even more from the rest of our society. These people are, after all, are living in their own separate society. They want to elect people who will represent them, not the rest of us.
Note: This essay was written by former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
Every hour spent auditing a taxpayer with more than $5 million in income nets the government $4,545, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found in a report released Friday. Auditing taxpayers in the $200,000 to $399,999 income bracket was less fruitful, generating just $605 in revenue per audit-hour. And yet the IRS spent more than four times as many hours examining taxpayers in the $200,000 to $399,999 income bracket than the $5 million-plus. That's especially important as congressional budget cuts have forced the IRS to pare back its taxpayer audits. The percentage of individual taxpayers audited each year has reached the lowest point in a decade, and is now just 0.84%. The highest-income taxpayers have seen the biggest decline in audit rates. In 2011, 30% of tax returns from taxpayers making more than $10 million got a second look by the IRS. In 2014, it was just 16%. The IRS already gives special attention to tax returns with an income above $200,000. But the inspector general recommends that the IRS increase that threshold. The agency will consider changing those thresholds, said Douglas O'Donnell, the commissioner of the IRS's Large Business and International Division. But he also said the IRS does not target groups of taxpayers based just on how much revenue an audit will generate.
Note: In the US in recent years, the super-rich have been taxed less and less while companies like General Electric sometimes pay no taxes at all. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality and government corruption news articles.
Much of the national debate about widening inequality ... ignores the upward redistributions going on every day, from the rest of us to the rich. These redistributions are hidden inside the market. The only way to stop them is to prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from rigging the market. For example, Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than do the citizens of any other developed nation. This costs you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year - a hidden upward redistribution of our incomes to Pfizer, Merck and other big proprietary drug companies. Likewise, the interest we pay on ... loans is higher than it would be if the big banks ... had to work harder to get our business. As recently as 2000, America’s five largest banks held 25 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Now they hold 44 percent — which gives them a lock on many such loans. The net result: another hidden upward redistribution. Why have food prices been rising faster than inflation, while crop prices are now at a six-year low? Because the giant corporations that process food have the power to raise prices. Result: a redistribution from average consumers to Big Agriculture. Why do you suppose health insurance is costing us more? Health insurers are hiking rates 20 to 40 percent next year, and their stock values are skyrocketing. Add it up - the extra money we’re paying for pharmaceuticals, Internet communications, home mortgages, student loans, airline tickets, food and health insurance - and you get a hefty portion of the average family’s budget.
Note: This essay was written by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
They are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago. The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30. An additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election - the vast majority of it supporting Republicans. “The campaign finance system is now a countervailing force to the way the actual voters of the country are evolving and the policies they want,” said Ruy Teixeira, a political and demographic expert. The donor families’ wealth reflects, in part, the vast growth of the financial-services sector and the boom in oil and gas. They are also the beneficiaries of political and economic forces that are driving widening inequality. Together, the [energy and finance] industries accounted for well over half of the cash contributed by the top 158 families.
Note: What does it mean for democracy when billionaire oligarchs have their own political party? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
In the past year, global wealth reversed a steady upward climb and fell by $12.4 trillion, largely due to currency fluctuations. But worldwide wealth inequality continued its upward march: The top 1 percent of households “account for half of all assets in the world,” according to the 2015 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. That’s a first since the Swiss bank began compiling the data in 2000, and a level “possibly not seen for almost a century,” the researchers write. For those on the other end of the wealth spectrum, meanwhile, the numbers are reversed. The poorest half of the world’s population owns just 1 percent of its assets. Financial assets have seen a 6 percent rise in the share of total wealth since 2008, benefiting the wealthy, who hold a disproportionate amount of capital. The overall rise in global wealth continued to be driven in large part by China and the emerging markets, which have doubled their aggregate wealth since 2000. China, whose wealth has grown fivefold since the beginning of the century, was shaken by market turmoil in the middle of the year but still managed to add $1.5 trillion in wealth. In 2015, a household net worth of $759,000 will put you in the ranks of the global one-percenters. The cutoff for the top 10 percent stood at $68,800.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
You often hear inequality has widened because globalization and technological change have made most people less competitive, while making the best educated more competitive. There’s some truth to this. The tasks most people used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines. But this common explanation overlooks ... the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs. As I argue in my new book, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, this transformation has ... resulted in higher corporate profits, higher returns for shareholders and higher pay for top corporate executives and Wall Street bankers – and lower pay and higher prices for most other Americans. [These changes] amount to a giant pre-distribution upward to the rich. The underlying problem ... is that the market itself has become tilted ever more in the direction of moneyed interests that have exerted disproportionate influence over it, while average workers have steadily lost bargaining power. The most important political competition over the next decades will not be between the right and left, or between Republicans and Democrats. It will be between a majority of Americans who have been losing ground, and an economic elite that refuses to recognize or respond to its growing distress.
Note: This essay was written by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
According to a new book called Saving Capitalism ... rather than rescuing capitalism, the newly announced Trans-Pacific Partnership deal may simply perpetuate the problems identified by the book's author ... former U.S. labour secretary Robert Reich. From the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields the firearms industry from lawsuits by bereft family members, to laws that let companies charge high rates for slow internet, Reich offers a depressing litany of rules made by governments for the sole purpose of protecting rich corporations at the expense of the American public. "Contrary to the conventional view of an American economy bubbling with innovative small companies, the reality is quite different," Reich writes. In left-leaning circles, the conventional view is that creating equality requires redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Reich says the real problem is something he calls "pre-distribution." By lobbying for laws such as those that make life-saving pharmaceuticals expensive and technological patents unbreakable, large corporations and their teams of lawyers rig the game in their favour long before the issue of redistribution arises. Drug companies are rewarded not for inventing drugs but for extending the exclusivity of existing drugs. (The TPP does exactly that.) Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple capture the value of patents and then are rewarded for "strategic litigation" to prevent anyone else from using them.
Pope Francis will meet more than 100 men and women from a dangerously overcrowded prison population. Some 80% of those inmates at that prison, [Philadelphia's] Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), have not yet been convicted of the crime with which they were charged. Most of them are behind bars because they have not paid or cannot afford to pay bail while awaiting trial. Francis has visited prisons in multiple countries. This particular prison ... presents an extreme microcosm of two of the most pressing national prison problems: pretrial detention and overcrowding. The prison system – particularly in holding those who cannot afford to pay bail – targets the very people Pope Francis has shown the most concern for: the poor. With 2.2 million people incarcerated mostly in state prisons and jails like Philadelphia’s, the US now ... spends about $80bn on prisons. At any given time, between 400,000 to 500,000 of those people [are] held in pretrial or midtrial detention, sometimes for weeks, months and even years, usually because they cannot afford to pay bail. The Justice Department estimates that two-thirds of those inmates are non-dangerous defendants.
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.