Tag Archives | Inequality

Mississippi Hopes To Lure French Tax Exiles

Is the future of states such as Mississippi — which offers startlingly low life expectancy, sky high rates of poverty and disease, and minimal government regulation and protection — as laissez faire tax havens for rich expatriates? Via Yahoo! News:

France’s new Socialist leader President Francois Hollande plans to slap a tax of 75 percent on all income in excess of a million euros, and territories with lower rates are hoping for a cash exodus. Now the US state of Mississippi is making a bid to recruit wealthy exiles.

Haley Barbour [is the] former governor of Mississippi, a southern US state that was in part founded by French settlers on territory at one point controlled by the French empire. “I wonder if we Barbour boys ought to set up a business to attract wealthy Frenchmen and successful businesses from France to Mississippi,” he mused, in an article for the website of the US magazine Foreign Policy.

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The Rich Have Hidden $21 Trillion In Global Tax Havens

Wealth inequality between the super-rich and everyone else has been vastly underestimated, the Guardian reports:

The world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy.

James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has conducted groundbreaking new research for the Tax Justice Network campaign group – sifting through data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private sector analysts to construct an alarming picture that shows capital flooding out of countries across the world and disappearing into the cracks in the financial system.

“These estimates reveal a staggering failure,” says John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. “Inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people.

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Research Suggests That Having Money Makes People Act Less Human

Via New York Magazine, money is all around us, yet, until recently, there has been little study of its psychological effect on humans. The results are now coming in, and they’re not good:

Earlier this year, [psychologist Paul] Piff, who is 30, published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that made him semi-famous. Titled “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior,” it showed through quizzes, online games, questionnaires, in-lab manipulations, and field studies that living high on the socioeconomic ladder can make people less ethical, more selfish, more insular, and less compassionate than other people. It can make them more likely, as Piff demonstrated in one of his experiments, to take candy from a bowl of sweets designated for children.

Piff is one of a new generation of scientists—psychologists, economists, marketing professors, and neurobiologists—who are exploiting this moment of unprecedented income inequality to explore behaviors like those.

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Grads Face Spectre Of Student Debt Related Suicide

A fatal peril of life in the 21st century? Via the Huffington Post, C. Cryn Johannsen says:

Suicide is the dark side of the student lending crisis and, despite all the media attention to the issue of student loans, it’s been severely under-reported. I can’t ignore it though, because I’m an advocate for people who are struggling to pay their student loans, and I’ve been receiving suicidal comments for over two years and occasionally hearing reports of actual suicides. More people are being forced into untenable financial circumstances as outstanding student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion. Currently, 36 million Americans have outstanding federal loans.

I first started appreciating the depth of the problem of suicidal debtors a few years ago, with a post on my blog, All Education Matters, entitled, “Suicide Among Student Debtors: Who’s Thought About It?” I was stunned by the responses. In comment after comment, people confessed to feeling suicidal.

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Russian Millionaire Hurls Money Paper Planes From Office Window, Starts Riot

Midday summer sport for the 1 percent? Gawker writes:

Pavel Durov, founder of the popular Russian Facebook-alike VKontakte, took a bread-and-circuses approach to generosity over the weekend, spending time with VK’s vice president tossing paper airplanes made of money out of the company’s St. Petersburg offices.

A crowd soon formed outside the building, eager to catch every 5,000-rouble ($160) bill. As tends to happen in these situations, the scene quickly devolved into an all-out brawl. “People turned into dogs as they were literally attacking the notes,” said one eyewitness. “They broke each other’s noses, climbed the traffic lights with their prey – just like monkeys.”

For his part, the 27-year-old, whose net worth is valued at some $260 million, appeared to be enjoying the commotion, reportedly “laughing and filming” as people trampled over each other in desperation. He later claimed he was simply hoping to create “a festive atmosphere,” and stopped as soon as “people turned into animals.”

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Are The Rich Worth A Damn?

nyt mag richA vigorous case for the super rich is argued by Edward Conard of Bain Capital in an interview with Adam Davidson for the New York Times Magazine:

Ever since the financial crisis started, we’ve heard plenty from the 1 percent. We’ve heard them giving defensive testimony in Congressional hearings or issuing anodyne statements flanked by lawyers and image consultants. They typically repeat platitudes about investment, risk-taking and job creation with the veiled contempt that the nation doesn’t understand their contribution. You get the sense that they’re afraid to say what they really believe. What do the superrich say when the cameras aren’t there?

With that in mind, I recently met Edward Conard on 57th Street and Madison Avenue, just outside his office at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped build into a multibillion-dollar business by buying, fixing up and selling off companies at a profit. Conard, who retired a few years ago at 51, is not merely a member of the 1 percent.

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Why Can’t Real Life Be More Like Double Dragon?

Double Dragon“People get really tired of having all the tough villains front-loaded against them and resent getting short changed on play time because some fat mouth-breather’s hogging it all with a stack of quarters that could knock out a Clydesdale. If that’s all on offer, can you blame folks for staying home?”

Games are the repositories of our culture’s most primal values. As ostensible objects of complete fancy, they (can) deftly sidestep at will many of the extraneous ambiguities that force us to compromise our deepest values and thus help give clearest expression to our highest ideals.

For starters, game consequences are not so final or existential as they are in real life. You’re typically given at least 3 initial ‘lives’ to perform strategy experiments and become comfortable with play options before you’re fatally croaked. And even then you’re usually offered the option to restart the game. You have an opportunity to weigh options with some level of maturity and develop a play style that suits you personally.… Read the rest

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Stephen King: Tax Me, For Fuck’s Sake!

Stephen King, ComiconStephen King is so rich and so famous that he can say whatever he likes and it won’t matter a bit to him or his readers … so he does, in the Daily Beast:

Chris Christie may be fat, but he ain’t Santa Claus. In fact, he seems unable to decide if he is New Jersey’s governor or its caporegime, and it may be a comment on the coarsening of American discourse that his brash rudeness is often taken for charm. In February, while discussing New Jersey’s newly amended income-tax law, which allows the rich to pay less (proportionally) than the middle class, Christie was asked about Warren Buffett’s observation that he paid less federal income taxes than his personal secretary, and that wasn’t fair. “He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie responded, with his typical verve. “I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”

Heard it all before.

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Holding Hands As We Forge The Chasm

Suffrage UniverselNatalie Solidarity writes at Diatribe Media:

According to the Women’s Law Center, women face unequal pay for equal work, earning on average only 77¢ for every dollar earned by men, with African American and Latina women faring even worse. Legislative bills to strengthen the laws against discrimination are still in urgent need. Furthermore, depending on industry, women earn significantly less than the 77/100 that their male counterparts for working the same jobs.

Inequality is not a new trend. A comprehensive study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the gender wage gap can only be partially explained by human capital factors and so-called “work patterns.” The GAO study, released in 2003, was based on data from 1983 through 2000 from a representative sample of Americans between the ages of 25 and 65. The researchers controlled for work patterns, which include years of work experience, education, and hours of work per year, as well as differences in industry, occupation, race, marital status, and job tenure.… Read the rest

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