A new report from Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies shows that the Wall Street bonus pool for last year is roughly double the total earnings of all Americans who work full time at the federal minimum wage. (That's just the annual bonuses for just the people who work just in finance just in New York City.)
In his new book, The Great Divide, Joseph Stiglitz (the Nobel Prize-winning economist) writes: “I overheard one billionaire — who had gotten his start in life by inheriting a fortune — discuss with another billionaire the problem of lazy Americans who were trying to free-ride on the rest. Soon thereafter, they seamlessly transitioned into a discussion of tax shelters.” (The political conversation is most often about the free-rides of the poor, not the free-rides of corporations.)
Harvard University Press is publishing Inequality: What Can Be Done? — which lays out several steps to reduce inequality:
■ Government should be more concerned with monopolies and competition policy.
■ Trade unions should be bolstered to represent workers’ interests.
■ In addition to a minimum wage, there should be a framework to restrain pay at the highest levels (caps on executive pay).
■ Personal income taxes should be made more progressive, with a maximum rate of 65 percent. [Why not just tax capital gains as regular wages at the current tax rates?]
Pop quiz: Congress is responding to inequality by showing a resolve to...
A) end subsidies for private jets and eliminate the carried interest tax loophole for billionaires, or
B) cut food stamps and eliminate the inheritance tax on couples with estates worth more than $10.9 million.
The correct answer is "B".
New York Times: "A truck dumped eight million coins outside the Parliament building in Bern, one for every Swiss citizen. It was a publicity stunt for advocates of an audacious social policy that just might become reality in the tiny, rich country. Along with the coins, activists delivered 125,000 signatures — enough to trigger a Swiss public referendum, this time on providing a monthly income to every citizen, no strings attached. Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young. Poverty would disappear. (Update from PBS: The referendum didn't pass, but...)
New York Times: "Efforts to end prevailing-wage laws are emerging in statehouses around the nation. Opponents say these efforts would lower wages and see them as a new front in a battle by increasingly Republican legislatures to weaken labor unions."