Income inequality is killing the economy. Retailers, bankers and Democrats agree on that. Really.
It’s only Republicans who continue to insist that income inequality is great, so no one, least of all them, should make any effort to constrict the abyss between America’s struggling 99 percent and Americans who indulge themselves in $475,000 bottles of House of Creed Bespoke perfume.
Now that Wall Street and Main Street have endorsed Democratic economic principals to reduce inequality for the sake of the economy, voting Nov. 4 is easy. Vote Democrat. That’s the party both bankers and retailers say has the solution to economic revival.
Less than one week after the Supreme Court delayed the implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID law until after the midterm elections, a GOP official urged Republican activists to take matters into their own hands to prevent voter fraud.
Milwaukee County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Rick Baas warned a crowd of volunteers and supporters Friday night to be “concerned about voter fraud,” and urged the hundreds of attendees to take an “extra step of vigilance.” “You as a Wisconsin resident can challenge people who are not supposed to be voting,” he said at the Milwaukee County Republicans event. “You’ve got to do that.”
Under state law, voters, election workers, official observers, or any member of the public can challenge the validity of someone’s vote, but to do so, they must swear under oath that they have firsthand knowledge that the person is not qualified to vote. A challenge cannot be based on a mere suspicion or hunch.
Billionaire CEO Nicholas Woodman, news reports trumpeted earlier this month, has set aside $450 million worth of his GoPro software stock to set up a brand-new charitable foundation.
“We wake up every morning grateful for the opportunities life has given us,” Woodman and his wife Jill noted in a joint statement. “We hope to return the favor as best we can.”
Stories about charitable billionaires have long been a media staple. The defenders of our economic order love them — and regularly trot them out to justify America’s ever more top-heavy concentration of income and wealth.
Our charities depend, the argument goes, on the generosity of the rich. The richer the rich, the better off our charitable enterprises will be.
Just heard Fed chair Janet Yellen give this great talk on inequality of wealth, income, and importantly, opportunity. I’ll have more to say later, but do give this a read.
Some points that jumped out to me:
–It’s fundamentally important that she gave this speech, as it was when President Obama gave a speech elevating inequality as a serious challenge. The Federal Reserve is of course focused by mandate on employment and inflation, but of course inequality of opportunity is linked to economic conditions. In fact, while I thought her speech was excellent, Chair Yellen could have hit harder on this point, as I note below.
–While many of her slides will be familiar to those who follow the issue, figure 10 (below) packs in a lot of information about this issue of inequality of opportunity. It shows the inequality of debt associated with higher education by wealth class. It’s unequal, of course, but has become considerably more so over time. We also see the stable and low debt burden of the top 5%.
The good news: total global wealth just hit a new record. The bad news: most of it is going to the richest of the rich.
According to a new Credit Suisse report, global wealth hit a record $263 trillion by the middle of this year, an 8.3 percent increase over last year. It’s the largest annual rise recorded since 2007, and more than doubles the $117 trillion in global wealth in the year 2000. It’s also the first time the world’s wealth has passed $250 trillion. Wealth is now 20 percent higher than the peak it reached before the 2008 financial crisis.
But few are enjoying the spoils. The bottom half of the world’s income earners owns less than one percent of total wealth. It takes just $3,650 to be counted among the richest half of the world’s population. Yet 3.3 billion people, or 70 percent of global citizens, have below $10,000.
Recently, tech companies like Facebook and Google dropped their support of the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.
ALEC is a group, supported and funded by big business, that champions right-wing legislation at the state and national levels. One executive described how ALEC carries out its mission. "They're just literally lying" about the realities of climate change, he said.