Author Archives: Sam Pizzigati

How to wage war, FDR-style, on our pandemic

People fight harder, Franklin Roosevelt understood, when the rich don’t get richer.

The United States president, Donald Trump, is now proclaiming, stands at “war.” We are facing, in the novel coronavirus, “an invisible enemy” that could claim the lives of more Americans than every shooting war America has ever fought. Continue reading

I have an issue with how exit polls treat issues

Polling questions that isolate ‘inequality’ do no justice to the social ills that ail us.

We can’t seem to have an election these days without “exit polls.” News organizations—on every big ballot-box day—now routinely stop voters exiting polling places to ask who they voted for. Continue reading

Living in inequality, dying in despair

Americans are living a little longer. But we still lag well behind the developed world’s life expectancy norm. As the world’s most unequal developed nation, we shouldn’t be surprised.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some welcome news late last month: Americans are living a tiny bit longer. In 2018, the federal health agency reported, U.S. life expectancy at birth inched up about a month, from 78.6 to 78.7 years. Continue reading

Trump’s EPA is a huge cancer risk

Industry-friendly regulators are letting chemical companies flood the country with toxins. It should be a scandal.

This January, President Trump claimed credit for new figures from the American Cancer Society showing “the sharpest one-year drop in cancer death rate ever recorded” between 2016 and 2017. Continue reading

Braggadocio in the White House, carcinogens in our neighborhoods

In Trump America, science no match for ‘free market’ fundamentalists and CEOs chasing windfalls

Earlier this month, still another one-day-wonder of a Twitter storm surfaced and quickly sank in Donald Trump’s America. On January 9, President Trump claimed credit for new figures from the American Cancer Society that show—between 2016 and 2017—“the sharpest one-year drop in cancer death rate ever recorded.” Almost immediately, the American Cancer Society politely pointed out that the Trump administration had nothing to do with this encouraging decline. Continue reading

McKinsey, ICE, and CEO pay’s most obvious contradiction

The consultants are coming—and they know just what the powerful want.

A blockbuster exposé on federal immigration policy and consultants at McKinsey & Company has suddenly bumped the giant consultancy industry onto America’s political center stage. Continue reading

For billionaire Bloomberg, trying to buy the presidency is just a sound investment

America’s wealthiest billionaires buy a national election at $100 a vote—and still make money.

Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York’s mayors since 1942, hosted billionaire Michael Bloomberg for three terms. Continue reading

Michael Bloomberg bought Gracie Mansion. Could he buy the White House?

With personal fortunes worth dozens of billions, modern American deep pockets can afford one of just about everything

The 220-year-old Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York’s mayors since 1942, hosted billionaire Michael Bloomberg for three terms. The first term began after Bloomberg, then the Republican candidate for mayor, spent an incredible $74 million in 2001 to get himself elected. He spent, in effect, $99 for every vote he received. Continue reading

Can an economic stat help narrow our grand economic divide?

Egalitarian-minded economists are pushing for a ‘GDP 2.0’—and getting some lawmaker help.

Why do so many Americans deeply distrust government? One part of the reason, two top economists suggested to a key congressional committee this week, just might be the most basic—and familiar—of the economic statistics the federal government produces. Continue reading

Have researchers just hit an inequality trifecta?

Three new sets of stats help us understand why America’s 400 richest have never been richer.

At racetracks all across America, lucky bettors every so often rake in small fortunes when the horses they pick to finish one, two, three—a trifecta—just happen to finish in that order. Last spring at the Kentucky Derby, for instance, a $1 trifecta bet returned a tidy little $11,475.30. Continue reading

The GM strike: A century of context

In deeply unequal societies, real gains for working people never come easy.

Wars end with treaties. In the middle of the 20th century, the “class war” that finished off America’s original plutocracy ended with the “Treaty of Detroit.” Continue reading

The key to distributing wealth more equitably

We only build—and sustain—more equal societies when we confront the economic dynamics that generate inequality in the first place.

CEO compensation in the United States may have finally crossed the line—from outrageously unfair to intolerably obscene. In 2018, a new Institute for Policy studies report details 50 major U.S. corporations paid their top execs over 1,000 times the pay that went to their most typical workers. Continue reading

Wealth that concentrates kills

Two new official reports out of Washington trace our growing economic divide and the high price we pay, in dollars and lives, for letting that divide fester.

The weight of the wealth that sits at the top of America’s economic order isn’t just squeezing dollars out of the wallets of average Americans. That concentrated wealth is shearing years off of American lives. Continue reading

Make America… more like Canada

Canadians enjoy much better health care, much less inequality, and—a new study finds—higher incomes too.

We Americans tend not to pay much attention to our northern neighbors. Often, entire election cycles can come and go without anyone running for national office saying anything about Canada. Continue reading

A tale of two drug lords

One gets life behind bars, the other retires into luxury. Guess which one wreaked more havoc.

Last week didn’t go so well for the Mexican druglord Joaquín Guzmán Loera. A federal district court sentenced the notorious “El Chapo” to life in prison. The 62-year-old will almost certainly, notes the New York Times, be “spending the rest of his life behind bars.” Continue reading

U.S. tax policy can turn on a dime. Has Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just turned it?

The youngest lawmaker in Congress delivers a history lesson America has needed for years.

Who gets taxed in the United States—and by how much—can change both drastically and fast. Back in early 1916, for instance, America’s richest faced income tax rates that posed, at worst, no more than a minor inconvenience. On income over $500,000, about $11.5 million in today’s dollars, deep pockets faced a mere 7 percent federal income tax levy. Continue reading

The deep-pocket push to deep-six public schools

The backstory to the showdown in Los Angeles between teachers and billionaires

Back during the 1960s and 1970s, in cities, suburbs, and small towns across the United States, teacher strikes made headlines on a fairly regular basis. Teachers in those years had a variety of reasons for walking out. They struck for the right to bargain. They struck for decent pay and benefits. They struck for professional dignity. Continue reading

Executives make millions misleading cancer patients. Here’s one way to stop them

Cancer-treatment executives are reaping fortunes off misleading marketing. We should make that less profitable.

Cancer kills. Every American knows that. Continue reading

What does inequality cost the average American? About $150k

Americans pay a steep price for not spreading their wealth around as well as other developed countries.

Belgian waffles. Belgian beers. Americans love ’em. Continue reading

If you want to collect Social Security, Trump’s tax plan is an outrage

How much did your paychecks total last year? You know the answer, of course. So does the Social Security Administration. The totals for every American’s paycheck income are sitting in Social Security’s computers. Continue reading

America’s construction carnage

As unions decline, construction workers are dying at alarming rates.

Try this the next time you find yourself standing on a Wall Street corner. Ask the first power suit you see why Wall Street’s finest deserve to be making $25 billion in bonuses a year. Continue reading