Author Archives: Sam Pizzigati

Forget the huddled masses, bring us billionaires.

Last month, for instance, Bloomberg reporters tracked down the world’s 25 richest families. Ten of the 25 happened to come from the United States. No other nation had more than four. Continue reading

The least sympathetic people in the entire world?

They just may be the super-rich who’ve bought mega-million condos in midtown Manhattan’s now infamous needle towers.

Have you heard about the people in that new condo building over at 432? They’re having quite a spat with the developer. Floods from the plumbing. Scary noises and vibrations. The whole building had to empty out for an overhaul of the electrical system, and plenty of folks living there fear getting stuck—for hours—on the elevators. Such a shame. Continue reading

Why do Europeans live longer than Americans?

Over a generation ago, in a more equal United States, no one had to ask that question.

Demographers looking back—years from now—on America’s annual mortality rates are going to find an asterisk on the years 2020 and 2021. The text behind that asterisk is going to give the reason why so many more Americans died in those particular years than the years right before. Continue reading

Who’s raking off all your awful office meetings?

This year’s Labor Day found millions of Americans—those who labor in offices—almost bubbling about the prospects for an epic transformation of their workspaces. Within Corporate America, working remotely may soon become a permanent standard operating practice. Continue reading

Inequality in the U.S. is much more than a moral disgrace

What happens economically when wealth tilts to the top? Most of us see immoral ugliness wherever wealth concentrates. Much more lurks that we need to see. Continue reading

Let’s take the profit out of war

CEOs shouldn’t have a financial stake in the murderous mass violence of modern warfare.

In the 21st century, many of us are used to the murderous mass violence of modern warfare. Continue reading

The climate stat we can’t afford to overlook: CEO pay

If top U.S. corporate execs are still pocketing jackpots a decade from now, our environment has no shot.

Ace researchers dropped two blockbuster reports on us earlier this week. The first—from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC—hit on Monday with a worldwide thunderclap. Continue reading

America’s billionaires: Borrowing their way to ever more fabulous fortunes

The great painter Diego Rivera would not appreciate what our richest are using for collateral.

No widely acclaimed artist in the 20th century baited and battled the rich with as much gusto as Diego Rivera. The Mexican painter’s Great Depression-era confrontation with Nelson Rockefeller, then the twenty-something grandson of the world’s single richest individual, captured front-page real estate all across the United States—and far beyond. Continue reading

Our billionaires are blasting off. Good riddance!

Could space become the ‘final frontier’ in the struggle for a more equal world?

Three of the richest billionaires on Earth are now busily spending billions to exit our Earth’s atmosphere and enter into space. The world is watching—and reflecting. Continue reading

What happens economically when wealth tilts to the top?

Most of us see immoral ugliness wherever wealth concentrates. Much more lurks that we need to see.

Trickle-down is trickling away. The high priests of America’s trickle-down temple may still be preaching their gospel—the notion that enriching the rich will end up enriching us all—but fewer and fewer people are taking them seriously. The “facts on the ground” have simply become too compelling to ignore. Continue reading

The simple fix our tax code so urgently needs: sunshine!

Income tax disclosure ought to be the law of the land, not a criminal offense.

America’s super rich are seeing red over ProPublica’s bombshell release of data from their tax returns—and so are America’s tax collectors. Treasury Department officials have already referred this “illegal” and “unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information” to the FBI. Merrick Garland, the U.S. attorney general, has pledged to lawmakers that finding the source of the leak to ProPublica “will be at the top of my list.” Continue reading

The justice McDonald’s workers seek workers at Spain’s Mondragón have found

We don’t have to organize our economy around enterprises that pay CEOs over 1,000 times what workers make.

McDonald’s workers in 15 U.S. cities staged a one-day strike last week. They’re demanding at least a $15 hourly wage for every McDonald’s worker. McDonald’s is resisting, pledging only to raise average wages to $13 an hour. Continue reading

Can we get a vaccine for the greed pandemic?

The avarice virus escaped decades ago from corporate boardrooms. We can beat it.

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t exited yet. But it’s ebbing. With our greed pandemic, on the other hand, no such luck. Avarice is still spreading at levels seldom ever seen. Continue reading

President Biden’s tax-the-rich plan: Just how bold?

A little history can help us with the answer.

President Joe Biden has made no secret of his admiration for Franklin D. Roosevelt. He’s even given a painted portrait of FDR the most prominent place of honor in the White House Oval Office. A bit more significantly, Biden has just announced the most ambitious gameplan—since FDR’s New Deal—for enhancing the well-being of working Americans and trimming the incomes of America’s super rich. Continue reading

The ‘pre-existing condition’ that doomed the U.S. COVID response?

The answer from a blue-ribbon medical commission on the Trump years: decades of rising inequality.

Back in April 2017, only a few months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, one of world’s most prestigious medical journals, the London-based Lancet, established a special commission to keep tabs on “Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era.” Continue reading

Them, then and now

We’ve already rejected the servant state once. We certainly can once again.

We don’t know exactly why Uma Subramanian wanted to become an engineer. Did she believe her fascination with how things work could help make the world better place? We’ll never know for sure. What we do know: Subramanian, the aerospace engineer turned CEO of the luxury private-jet company Aero, now believes she has truly made humanity an awesome contribution. Continue reading

The unintentional honesty of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

His farewell as CEO recognizes the reality his enormous personal wealth so contemptuously mocks.

Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO of Amazon. He’ll stay on as the executive chairman of Amazon’s board, but he’ll no longer be managing the company on a daily basis. Editors and pundits worldwide are treating this news as an epochal event. The supreme giant of the Internet economy, goes the refrain, is moving on. Continue reading

Some corporate-suite context for the fun and games at GameStop

Amid a rising billionaire tide, could a blip help change our national economic conversation?

You’ve probably seen by now some of those new—and jaw-dropping—stats on billionaire wealth. Analysts at Inequality.org started the statistical ball rolling this past fall with riveting research on how much the fortunes of America’s super rich have climbed since Covid began crushing the U.S. economy. This week those same researchers have come back with an alarming update. Continue reading

Greed in the suites, from Walgreens to Walmart

Donald Trump may have made his exit, but the CEOs his years smiled upon haven’t gone anywhere.

Walgreens has no buzz. Most every week millions of us walk into a local outlet of this drab drugstore giant and give the enterprise all around us not a second thought. Maybe we should. Continue reading

Must our billionaires remain politically immortal?

The heirs of the just-passed Sheldon Adelson, the biggest campaign donor of our time, could be poisoning our democracy for generations to come.

We haven’t seen the last of billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Or, to put the matter a bit more exactly, we haven’t seen the last of Sheldon Adelson’s fortune. Continue reading

Our post-Trump democratic prospects: What the Ming Dynasty can tell us

‘Good government’ has always rested on equitable distributions of wealth and power.

How best to understand the assault on the Capitol this week? Might some historical perspective help us better comprehend how endangered our democracy has become? Could that perspective point us to a more promising post-Trump path? Continue reading

In 2021, let’s ring a global alarm—on inequality—that everyone can hear

Our task ahead: preventing a deeply unequal world from recreating pre-pandemic business as usual.

Remember that old joke they used to tell—and maybe still do—in luxury retail circles? The customer, precious product in hand, walks over to a haughty sales clerk at a high-end emporium and timidly asks: “How much does this cost.” Continue reading

The rich are cheering Wall Street’s latest records; Americans of modest means are draining 401(k)s

The nation’s woefully inadequate response to the pandemic is jeopardizing millions of retirement futures.

The all-time record highs that Wall Street has registered this week have given some Americans—the nation’s already rich—considerable cause for celebration. Continue reading

The rain on our yes-we-now-have-a-vaccine! parade

What could be better than a drug that can stop COVID? A society that doesn’t let some make billions off a drug millions can’t access.

Who doesn’t like a race? A grand global race, like the competition to run the first mile under four minutes. Or the race to scale the world’s highest mountain. Or be the first to walk on the moon. Continue reading

Why can’t inner-ring Democrats just say ‘no’ to billionaires?

The problem runs even deeper than Donor Class donations.

Have you heard the latest about the strategic political genius of billionaire Michael Bloomberg? Continue reading

The 2020 election as a triumph for democracy? Hold the hosannas

Higher voter turnouts mask the reality of the ‘affluent authoritarianism’ that now governs America.

In real horse races—races that actual horses run—the winners go on to run other races. Racehorses do races. They have no other responsibility. Continue reading

Out of the UK, a bold pay prescription for a post-Trump America

Two British think tanks are calling for a cap on the compensation that goes to corporate chiefs.

On November 9, 1932, the day after Election Day, progressively minded Americans woke up feeling a sense of relief—and a sense they might finally have an opportunity to forge real social change. At that moment, in the depth of the Great Depression, progressives could sense a new beginning. Continue reading

The Biden tax plan: The more progressives look, the more progressives like

This package of serious tax-the-rich proposals will have no easy road through Congress.

Want to know where the 2020 presidential election is heading? Don’t obsess about the polls. Pay attention to the tax lawyers and accountants who cater to America’s most wealthy. Continue reading

Can you imagine Ivanka Trump consulting for a pizza parlor?

At tax time in a plutocratic America, anything goes for a family like the Trumps.

The warmest and fuzziest phrase in the political folklore of American capitalism? “Family-owned business”! These few words evoke everything people like and admire about the U.S. economy. The always welcoming luncheonette. The barbershop where you can still get a haircut, with generous tip, for less than $20. The corner candy store. Continue reading

The arithmetic of avarice: Tweaking how we compute CEO compensation

Top corporate execs, turns out, are making even more than we previously thought.

How much do America’s big-time corporate CEOs make? Such a simple question, right? Not quite. Economist Larry Mishel has been working to get the answer right—for decades. And now Mishel, a former president and currently a distinguished fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, has just released his latest take on the corporate pay universe, a set of newly revised stats that track the past half-century of executive compensation. Continue reading

Within health care USA, risk and reward have never been more out of kilter

Nurses are losing lives and jobs while execs rake in million after million.

How’s pandemic life been going for you? If you work in America’s health care industry, that depends. That totally depends. Continue reading

Social distancing for mega-million fun and profit

Stocks are soaring, auctioneers are hammering, and the awesomely affluent are feeling no pain.

For the world’s super rich, the thrills don’t come cheap. But they do keep coming—even amid a pandemic. Case in point: this past Monday night’s historic Sotheby’s art auction, the first-ever “hybrid” sale of high-end artwork. On site in London, Hong Kong, and New York, socially distanced Sotheby’s specialists took in phone and online bids for four-and-a-half hours of often breathless auctioneering. Continue reading