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Advocating a Wealth Threshold
There is a poverty threshold, but how about a wealth threshold to save democracy, economic stability, the environment, cultural diversity, and much more!
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From ‘Inequality for All,’ a challenge for America

A new film challenges Americans to address the income gap.

Via Khannea Suntzu
Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

More evidence that setting a wealth threshold is essential to achieving both economic stability and true democracy.

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Khannea Suntzu's curator insight, September 10, 2013 4:06 PM

“Chilling.”

 

That’s how one reviewer describes the experience of watching Harvey Weinstein’s latest film. Only the movie in question isn’t “Erased,” Weinstein’s pulse-pounding thriller about an ex-CIA agent on the run. Nor is it “Only God Forgives,” in which Ryan Gosling finds himself caught up in a gritty underground world of Thai drug smuggling, prostitution, rape, and murder.]

 

The movie is, in fact, a documentary, but one more disturbing than international criminal conspiracies and more devastating than any “Sharknado.” It’s about income inequality. As Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich intones in the film, “Of all developed nations, the United States has the most unequal distribution of income, and we’re surging towards even greater inequality.”

 

“Inequality for All,” directed by Jacob Kornbluth and set to be released nationwide on Sept. 27, comes at a critical moment for America. Sept. 15 marks the five-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers — fueled by a toxic combination of deregulation, subprime lending and credit-default swaps — that precipitated the 2008 global economic crisis and laid bare the rot at the heart of our economic system. It was largely this orgy of greed that led the first Occupy Wall Street protesters to Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, two years ago next week.

 

In the half-decade since Wall Street’s self-induced crash, the country has hovered between outrage (that the perpetrators walked off scot-free and bonus-laden) and apathy (that anything will ever break the iron bond between Congress and the financial industry).

 

Until now, hopefully. Following the diminutive Reich on his “statistics-driven and impassioned” crusade, “Inequality for All” throws into sharp relief the numbers and stories we hear. Combining footage from Reich’s electrifying Berkeley lectures with interviews, news clips and rich graphics, the film weaves a compelling narrative about how and why, since the late 1970s, income inequality has risen to crisis levels.

 

The facts are breathtaking. In 1978, according to Reich, a “typical male worker” made $48,302, while the typical top 1 percenter earned $393,682, more than eight times as much. In 2010, even as overall gross domestic product and productivity increased, the average male worker’s wage fell to $33,751. Meanwhile, the average top 1 percent earner was making more than $1.1 million — 32 times the average earner.

 

Reich cleverly illustrates how the graph of American inequality over the past century looks like a suspension bridge — peaking in the 1920s, leveling out because of strong, progressive policymaking in the 1950s and 1960s, and spiking again from the Reagan years through the present. We see the consequences in middle-class families that have fallen off that bridge and are struggling to stay afloat.

 

The film’s most refreshing figure may be Nick Hanauer, a millionaire pillow company CEO who made a fortune as an early investor in Amazon.com. Hanauer acknowledges that he earns 1,000 times the average American but that he will never generate a proportionate amount of economic activity — because he will never need 1,000 Audis or 1,000 pairs of jeans. As he puts it, “Even the richest people only sleep on one or two pillows.”

 

 

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We'd All Be Much Wealthier If We Acted Like a Society—Instead We Prop Up the Private Wealth of a Small Number of Elites

We'd All Be Much Wealthier If We Acted Like a Society—Instead We Prop Up the Private Wealth of a Small Number of Elites | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it
If we continue the present path, high-quality public goods will be available to fewer and fewer.

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Who are the Russian Oligarchs and why are they so rich?

We often hear stories about the Russian oligarchs but how did they actually accumulate their vast personal fortunes at a time when the Soviet Union was disintegrating and the Russian economy was failing?

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

How the Russian rich got richer and the poor got poorer, and how wealth and political clout go hand in hand in a democratic oligarchy, otherwise known as a plutocracy (government by the money).

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Didier Sornette: How we can predict the next financial crisis | Video on TED.com

The 2007-2008 financial crisis, you might think, was an unpredictable one-time crash. But Didier Sornette and his Financial Crisis Observatory have plotted a set of early warning signs for unstable, growing systems, tracking the moment when any bubble is about to pop. (And he's seeing it happen again, right now.) Didier Sornette studies whether it is possible to anticipate big changes or predict crises in complex systems.

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

It is not enough to predict future crashes; we need to understand their fundamental cause -- growing extremes of wealth and poverty -- and solve it in order to stabilize the system.

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As economy recovers, the richest get richer, study shows

As economy recovers, the richest get richer, study shows | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it
A new study shows that wealth disparity has been accelerating in the two years since the recession ended.
Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

All income brackets have lost money "since the recession ended" (has it?), except for the half-million and over bracket, which has gained 21%, making the macroeconomic gain a deceptive 14%. What the title doesn't say is that "the poores get poorer". This is only adding to a topheavy economy and deepening its instability and potential volatility. Another crash in the making.

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Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That's the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

Why the USA is not a democracy (government by the people) but a plutocracy (government by the money), and what we can do about it.

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First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

In this short RSA Animate, renowned philosopher Slavoj Zizek investigates the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving.

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

The need to go beyond the kind of charity which perpetuates an unjust system by alleviating its injusticies, to the kind of charity which consists of deconstructing it and reconstructing a system in which poverty no longer exists.

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Stagnant Wages and Speculation Triggered the Crisis

Stephanie Seguino: Blacks, Hispanics, and single mothers have much greater loss of income since crisis, triggered by income inequality in the first place
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Stunning Facts About How the Banking System Really Works ... And How It Is Destroying America

Stunning Facts About How the Banking System Really Works ... And How It Is Destroying America | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it
Paintings by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com. Reclaiming the Founding Fathers' Vision of Prosperity To understand the core problem in America today, we have to look back to the very founding of...
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Young Man Blues -- We're not lazy, you're just greedy!

Young Man Blues -- We're not lazy, you're just greedy! | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it
Instead of complaining about how many people are moochers on welfare in the US, address why they need welfare in the first place - unchecked business greed.
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Why Justice Matters to Development

Fifteen years ago the UN's Millennium Development Goals set out to eliminate extreme poverty. Some of the original goals have been achieved. Now, with the MDGs about to expire in 2015, the world is drafting a development agenda. It's a chance to get things right. It's a chance to include a goal for justice.

In this video George Soros, Amartya Sen, and others speak to the importance of including a specific goal for justice.

Let's make access to justice part of the global development agenda.

Learn more at http://osf.to/justice2015.

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FOCUS | Monsanto Protection Act Proves Corporations More Powerful Than Government

FOCUS | Monsanto Protection Act Proves Corporations More Powerful Than Government | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it
'Monsanto lobbyists have gone as far as to generate legislative inclusions into a new bill that puts Monsanto above the federal government.' Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society
Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

A good example of how extreme wealth works against efforts at democracy in a plutarchy such as the USA.

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Gar Alperovitz: The Next American Revolution (TRAILER)

While there's been no shortage of commentary about the structural crisis plaguing the American economic and political system, from wage stagnation and chronic unemployment to unchecked corporate and state power and growing inequality, analyses that offer practical, politically viable solutions to these problems have been few and far between. This illustrated presentation from distinguished historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz is a rare and stunning exception. Pointing to efforts already under way in thousands of communities across the U.S., from co-ops and community land trusts to municipal, state, and federal initiatives that promote entrepreneurship and sustainability, Alperovitz marshals years of research to show how bottom-up strategies can work to check monopolistic corporate power, democratize wealth, and empower communities. The result is a highly accessible look at the current economy and a common-sense roadmap for building a system more in sync with American values.

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Chrystia Freeland: The rise of the new global super-rich

Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds -- and so is economic inequality, says writer Chrystia Freeland. In an impassioned talk, she charts the rise of a new class of plutocrats (those who are extremely powerful because they are extremely wealthy), and suggests that globalization and new technology are actually fueling, rather than closing, the global income gap. Freeland lays out three problems with plutocracy … and one glimmer of hope.

 

In "Plutocrats," Chrystia Freeland explores the growing gap between the working poor and the increasingly disconnected mega-rich.

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

It is great to see more people putting their finger on this central economic problem; not so to see all of the comments that question whether the issue is a problem at all. Have we not seen enough reasons yet?

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How Billionaire 'Philanthropy' Is Fueling Inequality and Helping To Destroy the Country

How Billionaire 'Philanthropy' Is Fueling Inequality and Helping To Destroy the Country | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it
Much of philanthropy today has become a weapon in the class warfare of the 1 percent.
Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

Helps understand why philanthropy is not the solution, but part of a deeper structural problem. The only way out is to change the structural violence that makes giving and receiving charity necessary in the first place.

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Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

An unusual yet compelling argument in favor of redistribution of wealth. It begs the question as to how to achieve it, which we propose is by setting a wealth threashold for individuals and market-share threasholds for corporations.

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Martin Hollas's curator insight, July 29, 2013 4:30 AM

I have found for me if I have lots of choices I would sometimes walk away.  If only 3 choices I would pick one most of the time.  I would buy more often.  And if I narrow my plans on my to do list of goals, I would do more goals by adding after the three goals I started with-not ten-then add more goal after.

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It's A "0.6%" World: Who Owns What Of The $223 Trillion In Global Wealth

It's A "0.6%" World: Who Owns What Of The $223 Trillion In Global Wealth | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it

Back in 2010 we started an annual series looking at the (re)distribution in the wealth of nations and social classes. What we found then (and what the media keeps rediscovering year after year to its great surprise) is that as a result of global central bank policy, the rich got richer, and the poor kept on getting poorer, even though as we predicted the global political powers would, at least superficially, seek to enforce policies that aimed to reverse this wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich (a doomed policy as the world's legislative powers are largely in the lobby pocket of the world's wealthiest who needless to say are less then willing to enact laws that reduce their wealth and leverage). Now that the topic of wealth distribution (or rather concentration) is once again in vogue, below we present the latest such update looking at a global portrait of household wealth.The bottom line: 29 million, or 0.6% of those with any actual assets under their name, own $87.4 trillion, or 39.3% of all global assets.

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The United States of Inequality | Bill Moyers

The United States of Inequality | Bill Moyers | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it

In an extended essay, Bill shares striking extremes of wealth and poverty across the country. The unprecedented level of economic inequality in America is undeniable. In an extended essay, Bill shares examples of the striking extremes of wealth and poverty across the country, including a video report on California’s Silicon Valley. There, Facebook, Google, and Apple are minting millionaires, while the area’s homeless — who’ve grown 20 percent in the last two years — are living in tent cities at their virtual doorsteps.

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RSA Animate - Superfreakonomics

Are we really as altruistic as we might like to think? In the RSA's new animation series, we put into pictures Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's case for re-evaluating the evidence.

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RSA Animate - The Truth About Dishonesty

Are you more honest than a banker? Under what circumstances would you lie, or cheat, and what effect does your deception have on society at large? Dan Ariely, one of the world's leading voices on human motivation and behaviour, is the latest big thinker to get the RSA Animate treatment.

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

At the end explains that the financial crisis is a problem of perverse incentive structures. "Unless we change the incentive structures we are not going to find a way forward".

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Billionaires profit during jobless recovery

The stock market is enjoying record highs, and the mainstream media is touting a recovery in the nation's housing sector. There are more billionaires than ev...
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How rich “moochers” hurt America

How rich “moochers” hurt America | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it
The 3-point plan of wealthy landlords, lenders and insurance providers -- the true "takers" threatening the nation
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8 Ways the Prophets of Capitalist Greed Justify Their Success and Your Slide Toward Poverty

8 Ways the Prophets of Capitalist Greed Justify Their Success and Your Slide Toward Poverty | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it

From the 'get a job' critic to the 'self-made' entrepreneur, capitalist greed is splitting the world in two. But rather than look objectively at their failures, many of those responsible have been hypocritical, portraying themselves as advocates of freedom and prosperity while the greater part of the world slides into poverty.

Peter C. Newton-Evans's insight:

It is important to be able to debunk these myths, in order to help rally the public support needed to cure humanity of the dangerous cancer of excessive capital accumulation in too few hands.

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The Pragmatist: Maximum Wage and the Limits of Human Inequality

The Pragmatist: Maximum Wage and the Limits of Human Inequality | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it

Pegging the rise of maximum compensation to the rise in the minimum will go a long way towards avoiding global disruptions.


The appropriate maximum wage that society should have will be a critical issue in this century. It is generally agreed upon at this point that a neurosurgeon should get compensated more than a tour guide. The Soviet experience of a relatively narrow gap between highest and lowest compensation (top company manager officially earning 3-5 times the entry level worker) shows that society's progress stagnates if tangibly unequal abilities and contributions are rewarded with compensation that's perceived as relatively equal. Yet various banana republics (United States included) around the world demonstrate that stagnation also sets in when wage inequality gets sufficiently monstrous.

It is not enough to look at relatively egalitarian societies like Japan or Sweden to try to find some golden maximum/minimum ratio. What is needed is a common sense and/or philosophical framework that 1) justifies a certain income ratio and 2) creates conditions compatible with human nature and self interest that allow the set ratio to be maintained.

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Corporate Profits Are Eating the Economy

Corporate Profits Are Eating the Economy | Advocating a Wealth Threshold | Scoop.it

In the last 30 years, there has been a great divergence between growth and workers' incomes, as the New York Times reminds us today. Corporate profits have soared, in the last decade especially, particularly because of three things:

1) Globalization has pushed down the cost of labor available to multinational corporations;

2) technology has allowed companies to make more with fewer workers, in general; and

3) Big Finance has gobbled up the economy, as the banks' share of total corporate profits has tripled to about one-third since the middle of the last century, according to Evan Soltas.

 

Here's the short story of corporate profits, GDP, and workers' income since the Great Recession. As you can see, corporations rode a wild roller coaster, but they quickly found their way back on top. GDP has been sluggish and overall labor income has struggled to keep up with even that sluggish pace.


Via Khannea Suntzu
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