"One man can move out of New Jersey and put the entire state budget at risk. Other states are facing similar situations as a greater share of income — and tax revenue — becomes concentrated in the hands of a few. New Jersey won’t say exactly how much the hedge-fund billionaire, David Tepper, paid in taxes. But according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha, he earned more than $6 billion from 2012 to 2015 ... [Tepper] is leaving for Florida at an especially opportune time for tax savings." (SLNYT) [more inside]
Back in Februrary, Talia Jane went 'viral', thanks to a bit she wrote concerning poor pay at Yelp. She was fired from Yelp that same day (previously). Now, Lauren Smiley at Backchannel.com takes a closer look at Talia Jane.
Amazon Doesn’t Consider the Race of Its Customers. Should It? - Bloomberg This is a logical approach from a cost and efficiency perspective: Give areas with the most existing paying members priority access to a new product. Yet in cities where most of those paying members are concentrated in predominantly white parts of town, a solely data-driven calculation that looks at numbers instead of people can reinforce long-entrenched inequality in access to retail services. For people who live in black neighborhoods not served by Amazon, the fact that it’s not deliberate doesn’t make much practical difference.
While buying groceries for rich people, I realized upward mobility in America is largely a myth. (slBuzzfeed)
Dear Jeremy... starts the open letter from [former] customer service representative Talia Jane to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, highlighting her inability to live in the San Francisco's Bay Area on the wages paid by Yelp subsidiary Eat24. [more inside]
Fed officials deny they’re taking sides. They justify policies that keep workers too weak, disorganized, and traumatized to demand higher wages by focusing on the purported dangers of low unemployment.
Grist: Seattle: City Of The Future series includes -
Is Seattle a model for sustainable cities, or just a mess?
Is Seattle a model for sustainable cities, or just a mess?
In reality, of course, change is a complicated and messy thing. With that in mind, the crew at Grist decided a few months back to use our hometown as something of a laboratory. We abandoned our work stations and set off in search of stories that would illustrate how Seattle is changing, for better or worse, and how the city and its residents are coping. It was a chance to get to know the place better, put our theories and prognostications to the test, and see what lessons Seattle holds for other cities.[more inside]
When it comes to college, the central challenge for most Americans in the 21st century is not going; it’s finishing. Thirty-five million Americans now have some college experience but no degree. Amanda Ripley in The Atlantic follows a group of Starbucks employees taking advantage of the corporation's partnership with Arizona State University, and discovers some of the reasons why so few low-income students graduate on time, or ever get a degree at all. The Upwardly Mobile Barista.
And it turns out that fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers: not everything, but an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class. Seattle entrepreneur Nick Hanauer (previously) discusses how unpaid overtime is choking the middle class, the shell game of stock buybacks, and what the Administration could do unilaterally to fix things.
Advice on how to survive late capitalism: "Your life is sold to serve an economy that does not serve your life. You don’t seem to be entertained, Bank-robbin’; your white-hot rage festers. It probably doesn’t help that you live in Brooklyn—this place where in the last ten years rent has spiked 77 percent while real median income has dropped, where the rich (the top 10 percent of earners who, as is well known, control 80 percent of the wealth) and their children live right on top of some of the worst poverty known to this country, while 20 percent of Brooklynites survive somehow below the poverty level, such that the widening income and wealth gap becomes achingly visible here. I could advise you to leave Brooklyn. But I don’t want you to leave Brooklyn."
The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats: "The thing about us businesspeople is that we love our customers rich and our employees poor. So for as long as there has been capitalism, capitalists have said the same thing about any effort to raise wages. We’ve had 75 years of complaints from big business—when the minimum wage was instituted, when women had to be paid equitable amounts, when child labor laws were created. Every time the capitalists said exactly the same thing in the same way: We’re all going to go bankrupt. I’ll have to close. I’ll have to lay everyone off. It hasn’t happened. In fact, the data show that when workers are better treated, business gets better. The naysayers are just wrong." [more inside]
What's the link between household income during childhood and job choice during adulthood? Stats and pretty graphs ahoy!
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins took to the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal to compare progressive angst over income inequality to the sentiment that led to the Nazi Kristallnacht. Citing the recent kerfuffle over Google buses in San Francisco (previously) and accusations of snobbery by San Francisco resident, bestselling author, and Perkins' own ex-wife Danielle Steel (who he describes as "our number-one celebrity"), Perkins asks "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?" [more inside]
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?,” Sandberg asks women in the opening chapter of Lean In. She obviously does not work in journalism (as my wife does) or academia (as I used to), let alone manufacturing. The question for most American women, and for most families, is much simpler: “How do I survive?” Sandberg’s book has been compared with feminist classics like The Feminine Mystique, but it really belongs in the category of capitalist fantasy, a tradition that originated with Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help and was popularized by the novels of Horatio Alger. The success of Lean In can be attributed, at least in part, to its comforting espousal of an obviously false hope: that hard work and talent alone can now take you to the top. This is pure balderdash, for women and men. Class structures have seized to the point where Denmark has more social mobility than the United States. The last myth to die in America will be the myth of pluck; Lean In is the most recent testament to its power.
Dan Grover and Mike Belfrage have mapped transit inequality in the Bay Area after reading a New Yorker piece on the New York City subway (previously). The ways in which a widening income gap are changing the demography of San Francisco have been widely reported of late (previously, previously). The project's code is available if you'd like to try mapping your own city.
DEAR AMERICA: You Should Be Mad As Hell About This. Here is a helpful series of excellent visual aids that shed light on the state of our current American socioeconomy.
Feminism's Uneven Success: "Class and racial and ethnic differences among women have intensified over time. The higher earnings of college-educated mothers make it possible for them to purchase child care and help with housework (typically performed by low-wage women workers)... the number of low-skill immigrants living in a large city reduces the tradeoff between employment and fertility for women college graduates. Outsourcing of care responsibilities can have many positive effects, but it reduces the potential for cross-class gender coalitions. Emphasis on changes in women’s average or median earnings relative to men often conceals growing inequality among women." (via)
The Rise of the New Global Elite The new global elite are fabulously wealthy, cosmopolitan, philanthrocapitalist, entrepreneurial, highly driven, frequently self-made, and confident they deserve their success. They are also often unsympathetic to the middle classes of the developed world. Said one senior executive: "...if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty [and] one American drops out of the middle class...that's not such a bad trade."
"The rich are different than you and me." A new study out of the Harvard Business School suggests that frequent use of luxury goods and services may encourage a narrower, more self-interested view of the world. Here's a link to the report itself. (Achtung! it's a PDF.)
There's been plenty of politically partisan debate about who or what ultimately caused the real estate crash that triggered the recent US financial crisis. One popular view blames "the Democrats and their efforts to expand homeownership to people who, in some cases, may not have been quite ready for it." But contrary to this view, new data strongly suggests that throughout the real estate collapse, the rich have actually been defaulting on mortgages for strategic reasons at much higher rates than the huddled masses. [more inside]
A new U.S. Treasury Report (press release) reports that tax returns from 1996 to 2005 show that income mobility in the U.S. is "considerable," with rising earnings, and top earners who often stumble. The WSJ crows. Pew releases its own research (reports, press release) on income inequality today with a multi-decade outlook, but summarizes the findings as that American families' income mobility is still highly dependent on their parents' position. Forbes and a The New Republic blog try to reconcile the reports. Meanwhile, blacks appear to be downwardly mobile.