Posts Tagged ‘inequality’

“Levee Wars” Make Floods Worse

October 13, 2020

High levees are expensive, and often push water into neighboring river communities that can’t afford the same protection. Video by Ranjani Chakraborty of Vox, and Katie Campbell of ProPublica, 2018.

More:

“Environmental justice and flood prevention: The moral cost of floodwater redistribution,” Kuei-Hsien Liao, Jeffrey Kok Hui Chan, Yin-Ling Huang, Landscape and Urban Planning [abstract]

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A Christian cartoonist explains systemic racism to white folks

August 10, 2020

A video by Phil Vischer, creator of Christian cartoon series VeggieTales, explains to his white evangelical audience why people are in the streets protesting racism and police brutality. “I’m not here to tell you what the right solutions are, because I don’t know. I’m just here to ask you to do one thing — it is the thing that begins every journey to a solution for every problem. What am I asking you do to? Care.”

18 minutes and well worth it, even if Bob the Tomato isn’t involved.

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US cities were segregated by design.

June 4, 2020

The 20th Century segregation of America’s cities was not a natural event, explains Richard Rothstein. Unconstitutional schemes and policies ruined cities and left minority residents to languish. We still live with the consequences.

More:

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein, 2017.

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Coronavirus Stimulus Tax Break Benefits Millionaires

April 16, 2020

Coronavirus Stimulus Tax Break Benefits Millionaires

“More than 80 percent of the benefits of a tax change tucked into the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month will go to those who earn more than $1 million annually, according to a report by a nonpartisan congressional body ….

The provision, inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans, temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as ‘pass-through’ entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other tax cuts to firms in that legislation.

Suspending the limitation will cost taxpayers about $90 billion in 2020 alone, part of a set of tax changes that will add close to $170 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the nonpartisan congressional body.”

— “Tax change in coronavirus package overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, congressional body finds,” Jeff Stein, Washington Post

More:

“Coronavirus stimulus law has a tax loophole just for millionaires, report says,” Charles Duncan, McClatchy

“Millionaires to reap 80% of benefit from tax change in US coronavirus stimulus,” Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian

Related:

“White House, GOP face heat after hotel and restaurant chains helped run small business program dry,” Jonathan O’Connell, Washington Post

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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America’s Class Problem

January 30, 2020

You’ve heard about the 1%, but Matthew Stewart argues that 9.9% of the U.S. population is America’s new aristocracy, and it’s an insidious threat to the promise of American democracy. A video from The Atlantic.

More:

“The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy,” Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic

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How America’s CEOs got so rich

December 9, 2019

How did American CEOs get insanely rich? Stock buy-backs. A Vox video.

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The IRS only audits working people, because it’s cheaper

October 7, 2019

The IRS only audits working people, because it's cheaper.
Leona Helmsley said “Only the little people pay taxes.”  That’s who the IRS audits, any way.

“On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits — of which there were about 380,000 last year, accounting for 39% of the total the IRS conducted — are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either.”

“On the other hand, auditing the rich is hard. It takes senior auditors hours upon hours to complete an exam. What’s more … ‘the rate of attrition is significantly higher among these more experienced examiners.’ As a result, the budget cuts have hit this part of the IRS particularly hard.”

“For now, the IRS says, while it agrees auditing more wealthy taxpayers would be a good idea, without adequate funding there’s nothing it can do.”

“Since 2011, Republicans in Congress have driven cuts to the IRS enforcement budget; it’s more than a quarter lower than its 2010 level, adjusting for inflation.”

— “IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor,” Paul Kiel, ProPublica

Related:

“The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You,” David Leonhardt, New York Times

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Uber’s Employment Model: Sharecropping.

May 15, 2019

Uber's Employment Model: Sharecropping.

After the Civil War, when plantation owners were deprived of a chattel slave workforce, they implemented a form of peonage euphemistically called “sharecropping.” The landowners contracted poor black and white laborers to work their fields as tenants. These independent contractors did the backbreaking work in return for a small share of cotton harvest proceeds, often absorbing the costs of farming and bad harvests. That’s the employment model of rideshare companies like Uber.

Think of Uber’s digital platform as the plantation’s cotton fields. Uber lets the drivers plow use it if they turn over most of their cotton fare money to the plantation platform owner. Drivers absorb the costs of fuel, cellphone, car loans, permits, insurance, and maintenence. And if their mule car dies, the platform owner lets them buy a new one at subprime rates. Healthcare and retirement benefits? Nope.

Drivers are catching on, and so is the public. No wonder rideshare companies are pushing so hard for autonomous vehicles. After all, they automated the cotton fields, didn’t they?

 

More:

“Uber and the labor market,” Lawrence Mishel, The Economic Policy Institute

“Strike All You Want. Uber Won’t Pay a Living Wage.” Sarah Jeong, New York Times

“‘It’s a Laughable Fiction’: How Uber’s $82 Billion Valuation Was Built on a Lie to Its Workers.” Brianna Provenzano. Pacific Standard

“How Corporate Delusions of Automation Fuel the Cruelty of Uber and Lyft,” Brian Merchant, Gizmodo

Related:

“Research: Ride Share Has Increased San Francisco Traffic,” Rachen Swan, SF Chronicle, via Government Technology

“Uber Is a Scam,” Doug Henwood, Jacobin

Updates:

“Uber’s Path of Destruction,” Hubert Horan, American Affairs Journal

“Hundreds of Uber Drivers in Toronto Are Joining a Union,” Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo

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Image derived from “In a Cotton Field” by Horace Bradley, from Harper’s Weekly, August 1887 (Library of Congress).

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W. E. B. Du Bois: Strivings

February 15, 2019

“Strivings of the Negro People” by W. E. B. Du Bois, from The Atlantic, August 1897, animated by Tynesha Foreman. Read the full essay here.

“It dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like … in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil.”

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Wilbur Ross Explains It All To You

January 25, 2019

Wilbur Ross Explains It All To You

Commerce Secretary and grifter Wilbur Ross (net worth: $440 million — or maybe $2.9 billion) expressed puzzlement over why unpaid federal workers need to go to food banks during the Trump government shutdown when they could get loans. Perhaps they can use their art collections as collateral. It’s true that the Commerce Department Credit Union offers loans to unpaid federal employees — at nearly 9 percent interest. What GS-4 wouldn’t jump at that?

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