Author Archives: Sam Pizzigati

Once upon a time the US taxed the rich

A little history might just inspire us to try that taxing again.

Once upon a time, the United States seriously taxed the nation’s rich. You remember that time? Probably not. To have a personal memory of that tax-the-rich era, you now have to be well into your seventies. Continue reading

Elon Musk may not be so brilliant after all

As Twitter implodes under Musk’s rule, a lawsuit argues Tesla is vastly overpaying the world’s richest man.

A good day’s work for a good day’s pay. Should this age-old wisdom apply to overpaid CEOs as well as their workers? A Delaware court will soon decide, a turn of events that must have the richest man in the known universe, Elon Musk, feeling more than a little bit uneasy. Continue reading

Election 2022’s grandest victors?

Another Election Day, another sigh of relief—from America’s deepest pockets

Who “won” the 2022 midterm elections? Who has cause to crow the loudest? Democrats? They averted the traditional midterm swoon. Florida governor—and presidential hopeful—Ron DeSantis? His state GOP team swept away Dems at every level. Republicans in the House? They’re claiming a bare majority, enough to make life hell for President Joe Biden over the rest of his term. Continue reading

Ordinary Americans face fines for doing what comes naturally to America’s financially finest

Do you have a favorite candidate in the upcoming congressional midterm elections? Want to do everything you can to see that candidate elected? Thinking about opening your wallet in the campaign’s final days? Continue reading

What threatens Florida more, hurricanes or the rich?

Last month’s Hurricane Ian has already faded from the headlines, but local officials and insurers are still tallying up the total damage. The storm may well end up America’s second-costliest hurricane ever. Continue reading

Can a deeply unequal nation totally reverse course?

The alarm bells are—sort of—ringing, Bloomberg reports, in Colombia’s most “fashionable neighborhoods of Bogotá and Medellin.” Continue reading

Should we let scam-artists ‘educate’ our young people?

We’ve been doing just that—with our tax dollars.

Just over 200,000 young American men and women—all students defrauded by a now defunct for-profit trade school—received some welcome news earlier this week on their student loans. The Biden administration has just erased the $3.9 billion these students owe the U.S. Department of Education. Continue reading

Janet Yellen’s noble effort comes to naught

To end the tax games rich people play, we need more oomph than isolated officials can deliver.

Janet Yellen has spent a lifetime trying to inject a little humanity into the macho male ranks of our nation’s elite economists. This past year, she may have engineered her greatest contribution yet: an epic global tax deal—involving over 130 nations—designed to drive corporate tax havens out of existence and raise billions upon billions in new revenue from accomplished corporate tax avoiders like Apple and Google. Continue reading

Keeping workers poor is bad for business

At America's biggest low-wage employers, chief executives now pocket 670 times more than their workers.

CEOs at America’s biggest low-wage employers now take home, on average, 670 times what their typical workers make. Continue reading

Bulldozing away the right to tax the rich

A sizeable share of America’s pundits and politicians have—with good reason—been spending the last several days bemoaning and bewailing billionaire Elon Musk’s latest business gambit: a $44-billion annexation of the social media universe known as Twitter. Continue reading

The Tom Paine tax plan

Over two centuries ago, Tom Paine urged our new republic to tax extreme wealth. This tax season, President Biden is picking up the call.

The great pamphleteer of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, had much more on his mind than independence from the British. Continue reading

How excessive CEO pay undermines enterprise effectiveness and efficiency in the 21st century

Enterprises that tolerate huge pay gaps “succeed” not by empowering employees, but by building and wielding monopoly power.

Our most effective and efficient enterprises today understand, as University of Southern California Center for Effective organizations director Edward Lawler puts it, that all employees, not just the top brass, “must add significant value” to how their enterprises operate. Old-style “command-and-control” management techniques make no sense in Information Age marketplaces that regularly reward enterprises that customize products and services to what customers want. Continue reading

What makes more sense, a minimum income tax or a maximum income?

The U.S. senator who chairs the GOP Senate campaign effort wants America’s poorest to pay up more at tax time.

Mitch McConnell, the GOP Senate leader, doesn’t have a problem with billionaires. He’s spent his entire political career helping billionaires make more billions. But Mitch Connell does have a problem with one particular fabulously rich figure. Continue reading

Worshiping markets, genuflecting to grand fortune

Today’s ‘utopians’ have reserved heaven on Earth for the richest among us.

Our conventional political wisdom, here in the United States, tends to see utopians as lefty egalitarians of one sort or another, clueless reformers and revolutionaries who just don’t understand how the “real world” operates. But today’s most clueless utopians, suggest recent reflections from political economist Abby Innes, actually hail from the right end of our political spectrum. These utopians see the marketplace as humanity’s only “sphere of true freedom” and government as the most direct threat to that freedom, an outlook on the world that most typically goes by the label of “neoliberalism.” Continue reading

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 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