Massive study finds strong correlation between "early affluence" and "faster cognitive drop" in old age

A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports on new analysis of the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which tracks outcomes for 24,066 people aged 50-96 with a good balance of genders (56% female), and reports a strong correlation between "early affluence" and "faster cognitive drop" in "verbal fluency" (measured with an animal naming challenge). SHARE is the largest study of its kind, with more than double the subjects of similar projects. Read the rest

Thomas Piketty explains how Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax is American as apple pie

Last month, Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren proposed an annual tax on the largest fortunes in America, with some of the cash generated by the tax being funneled into the IRS to catch dodgers who move or hide their money to escape the tax. Read the rest

Swedes are entitled to six months' leave to start a business, look after a sick relative, or study

Sweden consistently ranks as one of Europe's most innovative and entrepreneurial nations, and one of the most obvious explanations for this is the country's generous leave policy, which entitles salaried, full-time workers to six months' unpaid leave to start a (noncompeting) business, look after a sick relative, or go back to school. Read the rest

Fox News blames schools teaching "fairness" for support for a tax on the super-rich

Why are policies like a 70% tax on income over $10m and a 2% annual tax on personal wealth over $50m (with an additional 1% on wealth over $1b) so amazingly popular with Democrats and Republicans? Well, according to Fox News, it's because "the idea of fairness has been promoted in our schools for a long time, and we're starting to see kids who have grown up with this notion of 'fairness above all' and now they're becoming voting age and they're bringing this ideology with them." Read the rest

The plane(t) has been hijacked by billionaires, and we're all passengers

Anand Giridharadas is the Aspen Institute Fellow and former McKinsey consultant whose book Winners Take All is a must-read indictment of the way that charitable activities are used to launder the reputations of billionaires who have looted and boiled our planet, amassing titanic fortunes while starving the public coffers, and still retaining sterling reputations and massive influence thanks to the trickle of funds they release through "philanthropy." Read the rest

A 70% tax on income over $10m is designed to correct inequality, not raise revenue

Just as the purpose of a tobacco tax is not to pay for cancer treatment, the purpose of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's wildly popular proposal to tax income over $10m at 70% is to correct inequality and reduce the corrosive power of extreme wealth to distort political decisionmaking, not to fund programs. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren proposes Thomas Piketty-style annual wealth tax

Following recommendations set out in Thomas Piketty's landmark Capital in the 21st Century, would-be Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has proposed a 2% annual tax on household wealth over $50,000,000, with an additional 1% annual tax on household wealth over $1,000,000,000, which would bring in $1.9-$2.75 trillion over the first decade (about 1% of US GDP). Read the rest

Ahead of new Star Wars land, Disneyland raises pass prices by up to 25%

For years, Disneyland annual passes, parking fees and single-day-tickets have seen above-inflation price-hikes, but this year's will take the cost of the no-blackout-day "Premier Pass" (good for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, in Florida) to $1,949, up 23.4% from last year, a firm push away from the idea of Disneyland as a "locals park" for casual visits and into the kind of place that most local families could only visit on very special occasions. Read the rest

Rhode Island lawsuit argues that the Constitution guarantees a right to sufficient education to be an informed citizen

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not guarantee Americans "equal" education (which would require similar per-student funding in both rich and poor neighborhoods), merely "adequate" education. Read the rest

84% of stocks owned by richest 10% of Americans

Every time Trump reminds you that the stock market has experienced a feverish, tubercular bloom under his presidency, just recall that 84% of stocks are held by 10% of Americans. Read the rest

Pope condemns the "wealthy few" who hoard the riches that "belongs to all"

Pope Francis continues his streak of fighting for economic justice (though he's an unrepentant monster on abortion, women's rights, and the rights of queer people). Read the rest

UN poverty envoy calls UK poverty a "political choice" that inflicted "great misery"

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has followed up his scorching condemnation of US poverty with an even more damning report on poverty in the UK, which he calls a "political choice" brought on by a decade of austerity at the hands of the Conservative Party. Read the rest

Gilded Age watch: America's firefighting is turning into a two-tier system, with private services for the 1%

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's $50,000,000 Calabasas, California mansion was spared from last week's wildfires thanks to the actions of private firefighters working on behalf of insurers who've written policies on about 1,000 of California's priciest homes. Read the rest

How "philanthropy" is a way for rich people to preserve the inequality that benefits them

Since its publication in August, Anand Giridharadas's Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World has been tearing through the world, changing the way we think about inequality, philanthropy and elites; Giridharadas is an Aspen Institute Fellow who's long traveled in elite circles, but who concluded that the philanthropy of the super-rich isn't just an inadequate substitute for a fairer world -- it's actually part of the system that perpetuates the gross unfairness of mass inequality. Read the rest

Wanna get into Harvard? Just ask your parents to donate a building.

A batch of internal Harvard admission-related emails have come into the public domain as part of a lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian applicants, and they reveal that the admissions process is tilted in favor of members of families who are major donors to Harvard. Read the rest

Slaves - including children - make the bricks for Cambodia's housing bubble

Two bedroom apartments in Phnom Penh start at $260,000 -- equivalent to 2,000 years' worth of average annual wages for Cambodia's workers. Read the rest

One in ten of New York's public school students is homeless

114,659 of New York's public school students is homeless, bouncing from shelters to relatives' beds: homelessness is a predictor of poor academic performance for all the obvious reasons, including very long commutes to school (some students' families have ended up at shelters that are two boroughs away from their schools). Read the rest

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