Bernie Sanders is the only leading Democrat who hasn't taken money from billionaires

Bernie Sanders' record-setting fundraising isn't just notable for how much he raised, it's also notable for how he raised it -- Sanders is the only leading candidate in the Democratic leadership race for 2020 who hasn't taken any money from billionaires. Read the rest

Citing the Panama Papers, Elizabeth Warren proposes sweeping anti-financial-secrecy rules

The whistleblowers who brought us The Paradise Papers and The Panama Papers risked their freedom and even their lives (Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated for reporting on the stories). Years later, financial secrecy havens are still on the rise, and it's easy to think that all that blood and treasure thrown at ending money laundering and corruption was wasted. Read the rest

Private equity firms should be abolished

In his latest BIG newsletter, Matt Stoller (previously) relates the key moments in the history of private equity, from its roots in the notorious "leveraged buyouts" of the 1980s, and explains exactly how the PE con works: successful, productive business are acquired through debt financing, drained of their cash and assets, and then killed, leaving workers unemployed and with their pension funds looted, and with the business's creditors out in the cold. Read the rest

Canada's infrastructure was once cheap and effective to build. Now, it's a titanic transfer from taxpayers to the world's biggest businesses and investors

[We're delighted to have Rosemary Frei back with us, this time reporting on a global transformation: once, infrastructure was created efficiently with cheap central bank funding and now it's done with public-private partnerships, at much higher price-tags, creating massive transfers from taxpayers to the biggest businesses and private equity funds in the world. As we get ready for huge infrastructure buildouts to address climate change, the super-rich stand to reap trillions – money we could be spending on saving our lives and even our planet. -Cory]

Trillions of dollars are being plowed into high-tech hospitals, zero-emission public transit and other megaprojects around the globe. Shiny new infrastructure is popping up virtually everywhere, from Australia to Appalachia. Read the rest

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

America is one of the only developed countries in the world that pays people to donate blood, much of it sold abroad (70% of the world's plasma is of US origin), and as commercial blood donations have soared, blood now accounts for 2% of the country's exports -- more than corn or soya. Read the rest

Prasad's Law: there's always enough health spending to concentrate wealth, never enough to diffuse it

In a recent installment of his Plenary Session podcast, hematologist-oncologist Vinay Prasad observed that "There are interventions that disperse wealth, … and they give people jobs, and they send them out in the community; and there are implantable drugs, implantable devices, there are drugs, there are cancer screening tests, and we will always prioritize interventions that consolidate money in the hands of the few, over interventions that disperse money to the hands of many, with the same levels of evidence." Read the rest

Visualization of the world's richest people has a surprise ending

I was sure Bezos would have the number one spot in this animated comparison of billionaires' net worth. But $131 billion doesn't cut it.

(I recommend watching the video at double speed.  To do that, hover over the YouTube player window, click the gear, then click Playback speed and choose 2X.) Read the rest

MMT: when does government deficit spending improve debt-to-GDP ratios?

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) (previously) is an alternative to neoclassical economics that holds that sovereign states that issue their own currency can't default on debts denominated in that currency (if you are the sole source of Canadian dollars and all your debts are in Canadian dollars, you can always pay those debts), and that deficit spending is normal (every dollar in circulation was "deficit spent," since the money to pay taxes enters the economy when the government spends it into existence), and that inflation isn't a mere function of government spending -- but rather, inflation occurs when governments and the private sector are bidding against each other for the same goods and services. Read the rest

The poorest half of Americans have nothing left, so now the 1%'s growth comes from the upper middle class

The Fed's latest figures on American household wealth paint a rosy picture -- in the aggregate. US households now own a record-breaking $107T worth of assets! Read the rest

Free Coursera MOOC on inequality

Starting Monday, you can enroll in a free massively open online course from Coursera on inequality: "Most countries are getting more and more unequal. But the core of democracy is political equality: that everyone should have an equal say in how their country is run. Can we really expect these things to go together? Can people have equal political power while economic inequality grows and grows? This course takes students through the issues. It covers the reality of economic inequality, and how corporations and wealthy individuals are able to convert economic into political power. Students learn about lobbying and campaign finance, tax avoidance and capital flight. The course discusses the value of democracy, and the possibility of alternatives to our current economic system. This is an interdisciplinary course combining politics, philosophy, economics, history and law. The course is for anyone looking for an accessible introduction to these topics: concerned citizens, or those in fields such as politics, media, education, government or law. Although the topics are unusual, the difficulty level is similar to the first-year of an undergraduate degree. No prior knowledge is assumed." (Image: mSeattle, CC BY) (via Crooked Timber) Read the rest

Here's a map of the median net worth per adult in different countries

The Swiss are the richest people on Earth, with median wealth per adult os $227,891. Haiti is the worst ($214). Howmuch.net created a map of the world that shows the median net worth per adult in different countries. The United States ranks 22nd, at $65,904. The world median wealth per adult is $7,087. Read the rest

The Porch of Doom: a Halloween haunt that sends visitors to a billionaires' Mars where they are expected to do all the dirty work

Pete Tridish and pals made a hell of a Hallowe'en haunt this year: on their "porch of doom," trick-or-treaters were sent to a Mars colonized by billionaires where they were expected to mine Mars rocks and put them in Amazon Mars boxes at a sweatshop Amazon Mars warehouse; Pete notes that the haunt was partly inspired by my 2011 young adult novella Martian Chronicles, which was recently podcast in two parts by the excellent Escape Pod podcast! Read the rest

With "OK boomer," millennials are killing intergenerational resentment

"OK boomer" is an all-purpose rejoinder for millennials and Gen Y/Zers who are accused by their elders of eating too much avocado toast, wanting a participation trophy, or of miscellaneous snowflaking. Read the rest

NJ school district bans indebted students from prom and field trips, refuses offer to pay off lunch debt

America has a food insecurity problem, and poor, hungry kids who can't pay their school cafeteria lunch debt are performatively ridiculed and humiliated by their schools. Despite this shaming, these kids parents refuse to stop being poor, and so schools are turning to desperate measures to provide the right incentives to these parents (meanwhile, kids from wealthy families are being offered front-of-the-line privileges in exchange for their parents' "donations"). Read the rest

The rich poop different: measuring inequality with sewage

In Social, demographic, and economic correlates of food and chemical consumption measured by wastewater-based epidemiology, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a group of researchers in Australia and Norway present their analysis of a 2016 Australian sewage census, which sampled 22 waste-water treatment facilities and looked for 42 biomarkers. Read the rest

For the first time ever, taxes on the 400 richest Americans were lower than taxes on everyone else

In 2018, for the first time in recorded US history, the 400 richest American households paid a lower rate of tax than any other group of American taxpayers: 23%, down from 70% in 1950 and 47% in 1980. Read the rest

How the "Varsity Blues" admissions scam punished deserving, hard working kids so that mediocre kids of the super-rich could prosper

Propublica's latest longread is ostensibly a profile of two kids who attended Orange County's Sage Hill School, where tuition runs $40,000/year and where an estimated 25% of students get into elite colleges thanks to their parents shelling out for "independent counsellors" who run the gamut from people who help with admissions essays and strategic donations to the schools of their choice all the way up to William "Rick" Singer, who pleaded guilty to collecting millions to grease the path for mediocre rich kids to attend elite colleges by bribing coaches. Read the rest

More posts