An increased minimum wage would benefit nearly 40 million Americans. Economists stand in solidarity with low-wage workers. More Inequality News

An increased minimum wage would benefit nearly 40 million Americans Ten years have passed since Congress raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour, and it has “lost almost 15 percent of its value to inflation” since then, according to EPI’s David Cooper. Cooper’s latest report analyzes the impacts of the phased-in increases proposed in the Raise the Wage Act of 2019. Using EPI’s Minimum Wage Simulation Model, Cooper shows that increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would directly and indirectly lift wages for 39.7 million workers—equivalent to 26.6 percent of all U.S. workers. Women and single parents would disproportionately benefit. The wage increases would also help millions of Americans rise above the poverty line. Read the report » 

Economists stand in solidarity with low-wage workers Low-wage workers have endured decades of growing economic inequality due to modest and infrequent increases in the minimum wage. More than 100 economists nationwide have signed a letter in support of increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024, as well as phasing out the subminimum wage for tipped workers—which has been stuck at $2.13 since 1991—and indexing the minimum wage to growth in median wages. The letter details the benefits of raising the minimum wage—not only for low-wage workers and their families, but also for their communities and the economy at large. Read the letter » 

Why wealth equality remains out of reach for black Americans. The Conversation: “Based on data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance, the typical black family has only 10 cents for every dollar held by the typical white family. While there is no magic bullet for racism, access to wealth, and the security to pass it down from one generation to the next, would go a long way toward changing the economic trajectory for blacks. It is important to note that it was never the case that a white asset-based middle class simply emerged. Rather, it was government policy, and to some extent literal government giveaways, that provided whites the finance, education, land and infrastructure to accumulate and pass down wealth. In contrast, blacks were largely excluded from these wealth generating benefits. When they were able to accumulate land and enterprise, it was often stolen, destroyed or seized by government complicit theft, fraud and terror. In our view, education alone cannot address the centuries-long exclusion of blacks from the benefits of wealth-generating policies and the extraction of whatever wealth they may have. The most just approach would be a comprehensive reparation program that acknowledges these grievances and offers compensatory restitution, including ownership of land and other means of production.”

Flat Broke, Black Voters Want More Than Just Another Black President By Jon Jeter, Sen. Cory Booker’s announcement on February 1 that he is entering the 2020 presidential race brings the number of African-American Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to two, making the crowded primary field the “most diverse in history,” according to The New York Times. But while The New York Times, cable news and other liberal pundits exult in the White House bids of Booker and California’s junior U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, African Americans, ironically enough, have not uniformly mustered nearly as much enthusiasm for either candidate. “Cory Booker is running for president, y’all,” the popular African-American YouTube blogger… -more- 

Student Debt Is At All-Time-High Of Over $1 Trillion By Alexandre Tanzi, More than a decade has passed since young Americans faced debt levels this high. Debt among 19 to 29-year-old Americans exceeded $1 trillion at the end of 2018, according to the New York Federal Reserve Consumer Credit Panel. That’s the highest debt exposure for the youngest adult group since late 2007. Debt levels play a role in how young adults view their spending conditions, according to a University of Michigan survey Friday. Younger adults — those under age 35 — have reduced their spending compared with previous generations possibly because of weakened job prospects, delayed… -more-  

The Banality Of Empire By Kenn Orphan, This month freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar questioned Trump’s nominee for envoy to Venezuela, Elliot Abrams. While her interrogation was somewhat tepid in regard to American imperialism (she said “no one disputes” that the US goal has always been to support democracy and defend human rights), she did bring up the role of the US in the massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s. Massacres in which Abrams is implicated. It was also instructive in that it provided a visual to how deeply debased the American political landscape actually is. -more- 

What States Can Do To Reduce Poverty And Inequality Through Tax Policy By Sarah Anderson and Chuck Collins, States have an opportunity to act to close the loopholes that hide and protect the wealth of the top 1%, remedy the impact of the new federal tax law that lowers taxes on the wealthy, and make critical investments in infrastructure, energy systems, and programs that create broader opportunity and shared prosperity.  Concentrations of wealth are distorting our economy and undermining our democracy and civic health. State administrations and state legislatures can act to close the loopholes, put a brake on economic inequality and concentrations of wealth, and generate significant revenue. -more- 

Sarah Anderson and Chuck Collins, What States Can Do to Reduce Poverty and Inequality Through Tax Policy. State governments have many options for recouping the windfalls large corporations and the wealthy received through the 2017 Republican federal tax law.

Sally Tomlinson and Danny Dorling, The Key to the Brexit Backstory. How did Britain’s wealthy take the end of the British empire? Not well — and the rest of us are still paying the price.

Paul Theobald, Reflections on a Quixotic Bid for Social and Economic Justice. In rural America, a cascade of billionaire dollars is making sure that democracy cannot grow.

Sarah Schulz, Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency. Communities around the U.S. are told to blame immigrants for the burdens of unchecked capitalism. Don’t buy it.

Rebecca Tarlau, What’s Behind the Teacher Strikes: Unions Focus on Social Justice, Not Just Salaries. A new generation of union activists see their struggle as part of the fight for equitable resources for the communities where they teach.

Bob Lord, The Problem With Bernie Sanders’s 77 Percent Estate Tax for Billionaires? It’s Not Enough, Newsweek. The Sanders estate tax proposal has a fighting chance of curtailing the concentration of wealth that’s corroding our democracy, but only if strengthened to tax gifts the same as bequests.

Lynn Parramore, Opioid Crisis Shows How Economic Inequality Kills, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Big Pharma couldn’t do its dirty work without America’s increasing economic inequality.

Jen Doll, Why Does It Feel Like Everyone Has More Money Than You? Harper’s Bazaar. Opening up dialogues around money, privilege, success, and class can be as complex as the threads weaving these four beasts together.

David Gelles, They’re Rich and They’re Mad About Taxes (Too Low!), New York Times. An affluent few are raging against a tax law that puts more money — a lot more — in their pockets.

Jacob Hacker, The Roots of America’s Exceptional Inequality, Yale Insights. A cogent new overview.

John Horgan, Revolt Against the Rich, Scientific American. An uprising long overdue.

Anil Antony and Ankur Prasad, Pay people for data, The Hindu.  Seven of the world’s most valuable companies profit off data obtained for free from ordinary people. To nurture a more equal world, that needs to end

America’s billionaires have suddenly realized they just may be facing an existential crisis. A good many Americans, they now understand, would rather billionaires not exist. Our more pugnacious super rich have greeted this growing anti-billionaire sensibility with predictable right-wing scorn. But some daring conservatives are venturing into new ideological territory. They’re using the successes of Scandinavian nations — egalitarian pace-setters like Sweden and Norway — to justify America’s grand private fortunes. These nations, they point out, actually have more billionaires per capita than the United States. How can that be? Sam Pizzigati, author of The Case for a Maximum Wage, has the scoop on the right’s latest rationale for riches.

Max Moran, The Big Wall Street Giveaway the 115th Congress Hopes the 116th Won’t Notice. Despite shifting political tides in the house, Wall Street still has plenty to celebrate.

Tanya Wallace-Gobern, Black Workers Break Through Corporate Silence. Despite corporate censorship, Black workers are collectively challenging racism in the workplace and fighting silence with action and organizing.

Nanette Senters, GM Is Closing My Plant. What Are Politicians Going to Do About It? Senters gave GM 20 years of her life. In return they took her job — and the government keeps rewarding them for it.

Chuck Collins and Jessicah Pierre, The Role of Family Wealth in Reinforcing Generational Divides. An examination of one of the biggest financial riddles of the 30-something years: how can anyone afford to live in increasingly expensive cities?

Gillian Tett, How income inequality affects our mental health, Financial Times. Drastic disparities of wealth hurt rich and poor alike.

Joe Pinsker, The ‘Hidden Mechanisms’ That Help Those Born Rich to Excel in Elite Jobs, Atlantic. The “bank of mom and dad” and much more.

Jerri-Lynn Scofield, Skilling Released from Prison After a Decade of Doing Time, Naked Capitalism. Former Enron CEO Jell Skilling paid for his crimes. But the CEOs who brought us the Great Recession remain at large. A financial industry veteran explains why.

David Leonhardt, How the Upper Middle Class Is Really Doing, New York Times. A counter to the distracting narrative that positions the top 10 percent and not the top 1 percent as the new American aristocracy.

Greg Sargent, An election all about our Gilded Age levels of inequality, Washington Post. An interview with economist Gabriel Zucman.

Christopher Petrella, Anand Giridharadas: What wealthy people do is rig the discourse, Guardian. In an age of extraordinary plutocratic philanthropy, we risk forgetting that this same class of people is also undermining the greater good on an ongoing basis

Nomi Prins, Survival of the Richest, TomDispatch. America has become great again — at minting millionaires.

Black women’s labor market history reveals deep-seated race and gender discrimination By Nina Banks

Spotlight: Diesel displacement in Myanmar  Mee Panyar is helping villages in rural Myanmar transition from diesel to solar power through training programs to support electricians operating mini-grids. This decreases household electricity prices by up to 50%, reduces carbon emissions by 60%, and creates opportunity for productive uses. More»

Before the State of the Union, a fact check on black unemployment By Valerie Wilson

ies Say They Want Instead Gary Paul Nabhan

How Soil Acts as a Living Witness to Racial Violence Leanna First-Arai