The immediate crisis may have passed, but most Americans still haven’t recovered from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Wealthy Americans, on the other hand, are doing better than ever. In the three years after the recession hit, economist Emmanuel Saez has calculated, the top 1 percent captured an incredible 91 percent of the nation’s income growth.
This latest surge in inequality has not gone unnoticed. In 2011, the Occupy movement’s “We Are the 99 Percent” rallying cry thrust our nation’s great divide onto the center stage of American politics. In 2014, an international best seller from a previously unknown French economist, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, sounded the alarm about the global plutocracy that will emerge if current trends continue. In 2015, Black Lives Matter activists connected the dots between police crackdowns and the local revenue shortfalls made inevitable by tax cuts for America’s wealthiest.
The climate-justice movement, meanwhile, has highlighted the fact that our dream of unfettered economic growth imperils the very future of humankind on this planet, and that global climate change is hitting the poor and people of color hardest. To save our earth in its current form, we’ll need to start thinking much more seriously about sustainability and equitable distribution.
For the full feature articles, visit the Nation’s website at the links below:
To ensure a future of shared prosperity, we need to rewrite the rules that protect the wealthiest Americans.
Reining in the big banks would reduce risk while generating investment opportunities for everyone else.
If we closed the capital-gains loophole, we could put every child in America on track for success.
A 1 percent tax on concentrated wealth would erase student debt over a decade and bring the cost of public higher education to zero.
A movement linking civil rights with the right to organize would narrow the racial wage gap—and reinvigorate American labor.
A surcharge on luxury consumption would curb emissions and help communities make the jump to clean energy.
Wealthy CEOs are sheltering too much of their pay. A cap could fund long-term care for all seniors.
The super-rich have stashed more than $1 trillion overseas. Bringing it home would help restore poor communities.
This loophole will cost the federal treasury an estimated $50 billion over the next decade.