Game Changers: How We Can Unrig the Rules and Reverse Runaway Inequality


(Image: Flickr / [Kent Landerholm])

The immediate crisis may have passed, but most Americans still haven’t recovered from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Wealthy Americans, on the other hand, are doing better than ever. In the three years after the recession hit, economist Emmanuel Saez has calculated, the top 1 percent captured an incredible 91 percent of the nation’s income growth.

This latest surge in inequality has not gone unnoticed. In 2011, the Occupy movement’s “We Are the 99 Percent” rallying cry thrust our nation’s great divide onto the center stage of American politics. In 2014, an international best seller from a previously unknown French economist, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, sounded the alarm about the global plutocracy that will emerge if current trends continue. In 2015, Black Lives Matter activists connected the dots between police crackdowns and the local revenue shortfalls made inevitable by tax cuts for America’s wealthiest.

The climate-justice movement, meanwhile, has highlighted the fact that our dream of unfettered economic growth imperils the very future of humankind on this planet, and that global climate change is hitting the poor and people of color hardest. To save our earth in its current form, we’ll need to start thinking much more seriously about sustainability and equitable distribution.

For the full feature articles, visit the Nation’s website at the links below:

Inequality Will Not Go Away On Its Own. Here’s How to Close the Gap.

To ensure a future of shared prosperity, we need to rewrite the rules that protect the wealthiest Americans.

How Wall Street Reform Could Give Low-Income Families a Big Boost

Reining in the big banks would reduce risk while generating investment opportunities for everyone else.

The Secret to Funding Universal Pre-K Is Buried in the Tax Code

If we closed the capital-gains loophole, we could put every child in America on track for success.

Want Debt-Free College? Tax the Rich

A 1 percent tax on concentrated wealth would erase student debt over a decade and bring the cost of public higher education to zero.

Black Workers Matter, Too

A movement linking civil rights with the right to organize would narrow the racial wage gap—and reinvigorate American labor.

How the Super-Rich Can Kickstart the Green Economy

A surcharge on luxury consumption would curb emissions and help communities make the jump to clean energy.

Retirement Benefits Are Rigged to Favor the Rich

Wealthy CEOs are sheltering too much of their pay. A cap could fund long-term care for all seniors.

Offshore Tax Havens Are Strangling Local Government

The super-rich have stashed more than $1 trillion overseas. Bringing it home would help restore poor communities.

How US Tax Policy Encourages Outrageous CEO Compensation

This loophole will cost the federal treasury an estimated $50 billion over the next decade.

  • Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Marc Bayard directs the Black Worker Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies.
  • John Cavanagh is the director of the Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Chuck Collins directs Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Sam Pizzigati is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and edits Too Much, an online monthly on excess and inequality.
  • Allhandsondeck

    Can only say it’s about time. This Terrorist Trio has been hiding under Uncle Sam’s skirt for way too long … For those who’ve been paying attention, these guys have been linked to numerous other killings, disappearances and acts of torture. Prats, atrocities at Colonia Dignidad, the Caravan of Death (Larios) Case, to name a few. Who else wants to see GHW Bush’s notes from Sept. 1976 going forward, while he headed up the CIA? President Ford’s daily CIA briefing papers during this period (the Letelier-Moffit Murders). Perpetrators of an act of state-sponsored terror … their role was covered up for nearly two years :

  • grumpy

    Sounds like a great idea!
    But who will state legislators get their country club memberships from if not their local utilities?
    Would legislators be able to fund cost effective energy efficiency programs? Or the least effective? It will vary by state.

    It is true they can do better than tax benefits to rich corporations busy destroying the world.

    The rules for accelerated depreciation are wrong in industry’s favor, but is that going to be easy to fix?

  • Eric

    Actually the money they are not paying to the government is going to ratepayers. Their effective tax rates are low but utility regulators then deduct that from the utility ratebase so utilities earn less and ratepayers pay less. Ask most utilities about bonus depreciation in private and they would prefer not to have it.