Archives for category: Economy

Jeff Bryant has written a powerful story that reveals the growing dominance of corporations in schools.

In the expanding effort to privatize the nation’s public education system, an ominous, less-understood strain of the movement is the corporate influence in Career and Technical Education (CTE) that is shaping the K-12 curriculum in local communities.

An apt case study of the growing corporate influence behind CTE is in Virginia, where many parents, teachers and local officials are worried that major corporations including AmazonFord and Cisco—rather than educators and local, democratic governance—are deciding what students learn in local schools.

CTE is a rebranding of what has been traditionally called vocational education or voc-ed, the practice of teaching career and workplace skills in an academic setting. While years ago, that may have included courses in woodworking, auto mechanics, or cosmetology, the new, improved version of CTE has greatly expanded course offerings to many more “high-demand” careers, especially in fields that require knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Education policy advocates across the political spectrum, from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to former First Lady Michelle Obama, have praised expansions of CTE programs in schools. Fast-tracking federal funds for CTE programs in schools has become the new bipartisan darling of education policy. CTE lobbyists and advocates have successfully pressed for expanded funding of their programs at federal and state levels. And a 2019 study by the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., found that since 2004, mentions of CTE in U.S. media outlets “have grown over tenfold, and they have doubled since 2012.”

According to a September 2019 analysis from Brookings, “more than 7 million secondary school students and nearly 4 million postsecondary students were enrolled in CTE programming.” And a 2018 review of CTE programs by the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics found 73 percent of school districts offered CTE courses that give students both high school and postsecondary credit, a potential benefit for students and parents who want to reduce the cost of college.

What has folks in Chesterfield County, Virginia, concerned is the particular brand of CTE that has come to their district. At a September 2019 community event, middle school teacher Emma Clark and others mentioned the district’s collaboration with Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL), an offshoot of the Ford Motor Company that claims, according to its website, that it “mobilizes educators, employers, and community leaders to create a new generation of young people who will graduate from high school both college- and career-ready.”

Chesterfield parents I spoke with also pointed to the district’s collaboration with the Cisco Networking Academy, an offshoot of the computer networking giant that has its own branded course offering in the Chesterfield CTE curriculum.

In a phone conversation, Clark described the district’s collaborations with these companies as “new layers” of school privatization. First, corporations like these can use the rush to CTE to flood schools with new course offerings that require technology the schools have to buy. And another layer is the CTE programs businesses help to create provide them with free job training.

The concern Chesterfield teachers and parents have about corporate influence in K-12 public school curricula is magnified enormously due to the entrance of Amazon into the equation.

The “centerpiece” of Virginia’s successful effort to lure Amazon to build a new headquarters in the state, according to state-based news outlets and state-issued reports, was a commitment to more than double Virginia’s tech-talent pipeline, beginning in K-12 schools.

“Virginia’s ultimate proposal was centered around an effort to provide Amazon—or any other tech firm that wanted to come—with all the educated workers it needed,” according to a report in the Washingtonian, and the state sealed the deal with a pledge “to plow $1.1 billion into tech schooling.” The state’s commitment to developing a tech-talent pipeline providing workers for Amazon and other companies was key to inking the deal, says an Amazon spokesperson in the Cincinnati Business Courier.

“We’re being hijacked in Virginia,” Kathryn Flinn explained to me. Flinn is a 20-year resident of Chesterfield and mother of two children, one a special-needs child, who both have attended Chesterfield County Public Schools.

This powerful article appeared recently on the front cover of the New York Times Week in Review section.

Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn returned to his hometown of Yamhill, Oregon. They discovered that an extraordinary percentage of the hardworking, ordinary working class people Nick grew up with had died an early death. They asked “Who Killed the Knapp Family?” I regret that they include the obligatory swipe at “failing schools,” since the schools attended by this family did not fail them and did not kill them, but the rest of the article is indeed an indictment of the vast social, cultural, and economic unraveling of our society, as represented by this one community.

YAMHILL, Ore. — Chaos reigned daily on the No. 6 school bus, with working-class boys and girls flirting and gossiping and dreaming, brimming with mischief, bravado and optimism. Nick rode it every day in the 1970s with neighbors here in rural Oregon, neighbors like Farlan, Zealan, Rogena, Nathan and Keylan Knapp.

They were bright, rambunctious, upwardly mobile youngsters whose father had a good job installing pipes. The Knapps were thrilled to have just bought their own home, and everyone oohed and aahed when Farlan received a Ford Mustang for his 16th birthday.

Yet today about one-quarter of the children on that No. 6 bus are dead, mostly from drugs, suicide, alcohol or reckless accidents. Of the five Knapp kids who had once been so cheery, Farlan died of liver failure from drink and drugs, Zealan burned to death in a house fire while passed out drunk, Rogena died from hepatitis linked to drug use and Nathan blew himself up cooking meth. Keylan survived partly because he spent 13 years in a state penitentiary.

Among other kids on the bus, Mike died from suicide, Steve from the aftermath of a motorcycle accident, Cindy from depression and a heart attack, Jeff from a daredevil car crash, Billy from diabetes in prison, Kevin from obesity-related ailments, Tim from a construction accident, Sue from undetermined causes. And then there’s Chris, who is presumed dead after years of alcoholism and homelessness. At least one more is in prison, and another is homeless.

We Americans are locked in political combat and focused on President Trump, but there is a cancer gnawing at the nation that predates Trump and is larger than him. Suicides are at their highest rate since World War II; one child in seven is living with a parent suffering from substance abuse; a baby is born every 15 minutes after prenatal exposure to opioids; America is slipping as a great power.

We have deep structural problems that have been a half century in the making, under both political parties, and that are often transmitted from generation to generation. Only in America has life expectancy now fallen three years in a row, for the first time in a century, because of “deaths of despair.”

“The meaningfulness of the working-class life seems to have evaporated,” Angus Deaton, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, told us. “The economy just seems to have stopped delivering for these people.” Deaton and the economist Anne Case, who is also his wife, coined the term “deaths of despair” to describe the surge of mortality from alcohol, drugs and suicide.

The kids on the No. 6 bus rode into a cataclysm as working-class communities disintegrated across America because of lost jobs, broken families, gloom — and failed policies. The suffering was invisible to affluent Americans, but the consequences are now evident to all: The survivors mostly voted for Trump, some in hopes that he would rescue them, but under him the number of children without health insurance has risen by more than 400,000.

 

 

We have all heard Trump’s boasts about our booming economy, but Jan Resseger points out those who are left bond as tax cuts fatten the 1%.

She begins:

Donald Trump has been at Davos this week exalting the United States’ soaring economy. While Trump brags about more people working, however, he neglects to mention the ongoing collapse of manufacturing and its replacement—gig and temporary employment—along with the paltry wages of many workers. Last week Paul Krugman more accurately described how many families are faring  in greater Cleveland, Ohio, where I live.  Krugman writes: “The other day a correspondent asked me a good question: What important issue aren’t we talking about? My answer, after some reflection, is the state of America’s children.”

The problem starts with today’s jobs and today’s low minimum wage, but Krugman explores a range of other ways the fraying social safety fails to support the poorest children: “What’s especially striking is the contrast between the way we treat our children and the way we treat our senior citizens. Social Security isn’t all that generous… but it doesn’t compare too badly with other countries’ retirement systems. Medicare actually spends lavishly compared with single-payer systems elsewhere. So America’s refusal to help children isn’t part of a broad opposition to government programs; we single out children for especially harsh treatment… The answer, I’d suggest, goes beyond the fact that children can’t vote; while seniors can and do. There has also been a poisonous interaction between racial antagonism and bad social analysis.” Krugman describes all the myths about social programs causing “a culture of dependency” among the poor, and he continues: “At this point, however, we know that cultural explanations of social collapse were all wrong. The sociologist William Julius Wilson argued long ago that social dysfunction in big cities was caused, not by culture, but by the disappearance of good jobs. And he has been vindicated by what happened to much of the American heartland, which suffered a… disappearance of good jobs and a similar surge in social dysfunction… Multiple studies have found that safety net programs for children have big long-term consequences.  Children who receive adequate nutrition and health care grow up to become healthier, more productive adults.”

Here are just some of the issues that have emerged in recent articles in my clipping file about the plight of America’s children.

At the top of the list is the persistence of family homelessness in America’s cities.  At the end of October, New York City’s Advocates for Children reported that for the fourth year in a row: “The data… from the New York State Education Department show that in the 2018-2019 school year, New York City district and charter schools identified 114,085, or one in ten, students as homeless.  More than 34,000 students were living in New York City’s shelters, and more than twice that number (73,750) were living ‘doubled-up’ in temporary housing situations with relatives, friends or others.” While the lack of affordable housing is most extreme in NYC, the problem is growing in other gentrifying cities. 

Read the rest of the post. It’s excellent, as always with Jan’s thoughtful critiques.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin insulted environmental activist Greta Thunberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying she should study economics. Although I’m no economist, it seems to me that the cost of intensified earthquakes, hurricanes, rising seas, and the health risks associated with extreme climate events far outweighs the profits of the fossil fuel industry. But then, I’m no economist.

The Washington Post consulted an economist:

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Switzerland, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about calls from climate change activists such as Greta Thunberg for investors to pull their money out of fossil fuel stocks.

Mnuchin jokingly pretended to be unfamiliar with Thunberg, who even while still a teenager has become a leading global proponent of addressing the warming planet. Last year, she was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin said of Thunberg. He questioned her credentials to offer solutions: “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

The Washington Post contacted someone who did study economics in college and asked him to explain it to us. Gernot Wagner is an economist who has a joint A.B. in economics and environmental science in public policy from Harvard University, a master’s degree in economics from Stanford University, a master’s in political economy in government from Harvard, and a PhD in political economy and government from Harvard.

According to Wagner, Thunberg doesn’t need to go much further than Economics 101 to make her case.

Speaking specifically about calls to divest, Wagner pointed to a letter released this month by BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink. In it, Fink announced the asset management firm he controls will divest — move investments away — from companies like those that are centered on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change.

The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance,” Fink wrote in the letter, according to the New York Times. 

It’s precisely this scenario of having fossil fuels go the way of tobacco that makes fossil fuel execs the most nervous,” Wagner told The Post. He noted that Shell Oil Co. predicted the rise of activists focused on climate change — back in 1998.

But, again, the question is economics, not politics.

Wagner, who spent nearly a decade working for the Environmental Defense Fund, explained the economic argument for applying pressure on oil companies.
“It’s Economics 101 that tells us that when there is a difference between private costs and costs to society, that difference ought to be included in one’s decision-making,” Wagner said.

“And when I say ought, of course the private individual won’t; it’s up to somebody in a position of power — let’s say the secretary of Treasury — to want to guide economic policy in the right direction.”

Anu Partanen and Trevor Corson we’re living in a comfortable neighborhood in Brooklyn but worried about economic pressure and the future. When Anu got an offer of a job in her native Finland, they moved there. They wrote this article to explain that Finnish society arrived at an agreement to provide excellent public services, to pay higher taxes, to protect the health and wellness-being of their citizens, and businesses thriving. The Nordic approach to social welfare is not “socialism,” they write. It’s rational thinking. Capitalists support the system because it works.

They write:

We’ve now been living in Finland for more than a year. The difference between our lives here and in the States has been tremendous, but perhaps not in the way many Americans might imagine. What we’ve experienced is an increase in personal freedom. Our lives are just much more manageable. To be sure, our days are still full of challenges — raising a child, helping elderly parents, juggling the demands of daily logistics and work.

But in Finland, we are automatically covered, no matter what, by taxpayer-funded universal health care that equals the United States’ in quality (despite the misleading claims you hear to the contrary), all without piles of confusing paperwork or haggling over huge bills. Our child attends a fabulous, highly professional and ethnically diverse public day-care center that amazes us with its enrichment activities and professionalism. The price? About $300 a month — the maximum for public day care, because in Finland day-care fees are subsidized for all families.

And if we stay here, our daughter will be able to attend one of the world’s best K-12 education systems at no cost to us, regardless of the neighborhood we live in. College would also be tuition free. If we have another child, we will automatically get paid parental leave, funded largely through taxes, for nearly a year, which can be shared between parents. Annual paid vacations here of four, five or even six weeks are also the norm…

Finnish employers had become painfully aware of the threats socialism continued to pose to capitalism. They also found themselves under increasing pressure from politicians representing the needs of workers. Wanting to avoid further conflicts, and to protect their private property and new industries, Finnish capitalists changed tactics. Instead of exploiting workers and trying to keep them down, after World War II, Finland’s capitalists cooperated with government to map out long-term strategies and discussed these plans with unions to get workers onboard.

More astonishingly, Finnish capitalists also realized that it would be in their own long-term interests to accept steep progressive tax hikes. The taxes would help pay for new government programs to keep workers healthy and productive — and this would build a more beneficial labor market. These programs became the universal taxpayer-funded services of Finland today, including public health care, public day care and education, paid parental leaves, unemployment insurance and the like…

The Nordic nations as a whole, including a majority of their business elites, have arrived at a simple formula: Capitalism works better if employees get paid decent wages and are supported by high-quality, democratically accountable public services that enable everyone to live healthy, dignified lives and to enjoy real equality of opportunity for themselves and their children. For us, that has meant an increase in our personal freedoms and our political rights — not the other way around.

Yes, this requires capitalists and corporations to pay fairer wages and more taxes than their American counterparts currently do. Nordic citizens generally pay more taxes, too. And yes, this might sound scandalous in the United States, where business leaders and economists perpetually warn that tax increases would slow growth and reduce incentives to invest…

Here’s the funny thing, though: Over the past 50 years, if you had invested in a basket of Nordic equities, you would have earned a higher annual real return than the American stock market during the same half-century, according to global equities data published by Credit Suisse.

Nordic capitalists are not dumb. They know that they will still earn very handsome financial returns even after paying their taxes. They keep enough of their profits to live in luxury, wield influence and acquire social status. There are several dozen Nordic billionaires. Nordic citizens are not dumb, either. If you’re a member of the robust middle class in Finland, you generally get a better overall deal for your combined taxes and personal expenditures, as well as higher-quality outcomes, than your American counterparts — and with far less hassle.

Why would the wealthy in Nordic countries go along with this? Some Nordic capitalists actually believe in equality of opportunity and recognize the value of a society that invests in all of its people. But there is a more prosaic reason, too: Paying taxes is a convenient way for capitalists to outsource to the government the work of keeping workers healthy and educated…

While companies in the United States struggle to administer health plans and to find workers who are sufficiently educated, Nordic societies have demanded that their governments provide high-quality public services for all citizens. This liberates businesses to focus on what they do best: business. It’s convenient for everyone else, too. All Finnish residents, including manual laborers, legal immigrants, well-paid managers and wealthy families, benefit hugely from the same Finnish single-payer health care system and world-class public schools.

There’s a big lesson here: When capitalists perceive government as a logistical ally rather than an ideological foe and when all citizens have a stake in high-quality public institutions, it’s amazing how well government can get things done.

Ultimately, when we mislabel what goes on in Nordic nations as socialism, we blind ourselves to what the Nordic region really is: a laboratory where capitalists invest in long-term stability and human flourishing while maintaining healthy profits.

Capitalists in the United States have taken a different path. They’ve slashed taxes, weakened government, crushed unions and privatized essential services in the pursuit of excess profits. All of this leaves workers painfully vulnerable to capitalism’s dynamic disruptions. Even well-positioned Americans now struggle under debilitating pressures, and a majority inhabit a treacherous Wild West where poverty, homelessness, medical bankruptcy, addiction and incarceration can be just a bit of bad luck away. Americans are told that this is freedom and that it is the most heroic way to live…

The success of Nordic capitalism is not due to businesses doing more to help communities. In a way, it’s the opposite: Nordic capitalists do less. What Nordic businesses do is focus on business — including good-faith negotiations with their unions — while letting citizens vote for politicians who use government to deliver a set of robust universal public services…

Right now might be an opportune moment for American capitalists to pause and ask themselves what kind of long-term cost-benefit calculation makes the most sense. Business leaders focused on the long game could do a lot worse than starting with a fact-finding trip to Finland.

 

 

This is a fascinating documentary about artificial intelligence. 

Robots are replacing jobs performed by humans.

Cashiers, secretaries, clerks, truck drivers.

There is no turning back. Middle-class jobs are disappearing.

Trump promises to bring back the jobs destroyed by AI. He won’t. He can’t.

China has perfected the art of facial recognition and uses it to surveil everyone.

We live in the “age of surveillance capitalism.” Also, “surveillance authoritarianism.”

A quote: “How do I do this more efficiently? That means, how do I do it with fewer workers?”

Another: ”Automation substitutes capital for labor.”

Automation increases inequality.

Surveillance eliminates the last vestiges of privacy.

This is a must-see documentary.

Think about it.

Prepare yourself to fight for privacy and humanity.

Insist on interpersonal interactions.

Don’t let Them fool you into thinking that an interaction with a machine is “personalized.”

Reader David Kristofferson recommended this documentary, which is streaming on Netflix. I regret putting any money in Reed Hastings’ coffers, but this is a very compelling program.

“American Factory” tells the story of a GM factory in Ohio that closed, putting thousands of workers out of work.

A few years after the closing, a large Chinese company named Fuyao arrives to revive the factory, dedicated now to producing glass for automobiles.  The CEO comes from China to show his dissatisfaction with the quality of American workers. The American workers are happy to have a job, but note that their pay of $12 an hour doesn’t compare with the $29 an hour they earned as GM employees.

The Chinese managers are so dissatisfied with the American workers that they bring a team of American managers to China to see how Chinese workers perform at the Fuyao factory. The Americans watch bug-eyed as workers describe their work habits: a 12-hour day; one or two days off each month. The workers line up to show their deference to the boss. They perform with precision at a company festival, praising their employer. They act like automatons.

Back home in Ohio, the American workers try to form a union. Some risk their livelihood, trying to organize as a UAW union.

I won’t tell you how the vote goes.

I will tell you that the Chinese owners fire the American managers.

There is a culture clash.

More than that, there is a depressing realization that America no longer leads the world in manufacturing.

And there is a frightening realization that the Chinese owners will eagerly replace human workers with machines to cut costs and increase efficiency.

This is a very different, very sobering view of the American future.

A possible subtitle: The Screwing of the American Working Class.

 

Campbell Brown was a CNN anchor. Then she became the new face of the Education Disruption movement after the disappearance of Michelle Rhee. Brown advocated for charters and vouchers and she opposed teachers’ unions and teacher tenure. She claimed in various articles in the New York City press that the schools were overrun by teachers who were sexual predators, protected by the union. She created a news site called “The 74” to express her views; it was funded by the usual cast of billionaires (Walton, Bloomberg, Gates, Broad, etc.). She is anti-public school, anti-union, anti-tenure and pro-privatization. When Betsy DeVos was chosen as Secretary of Education, Campbell Brown acknowledged that she was a personal friend and that Betsy funded “The 74,” while Brown served on the board of Betsy’s pro-voucher American Federation for Children.

Those with a longish memory might recall that Brown started the “Partnership for Educational Justice” to file court cases in several states in an effort to destroy teacher tenure–a copycat of the Vergara lawsuit in California, which was eventually tossed out by the state’s highest court. Thus far, all of the PEJ lawsuits have also been thrown out by state judges who said that teacher tenure was unrelated to test scores. (There are probably more tenured teachers in affluent districts than in low-performing, high-poverty districts.)

Then Campbell Brown was chosen by Mark Zuckerberg to be in charge of media relations for Facebook.

Popular Information revealed the multiple roles that Campbell Brown is now playing.

The 74 = has heaped scorn on Elizabeth Warren since she released her K-12 plan, which proposes an end to federal support for new charter schools.

The 74 has (not surprisingly) lavished praise on Betsy DeVos.

Now Brown is in charge of deciding what news gets featured on Facebook.

While Brown served as editor-in-chief of The 74, the site featured at least 11 pieces from Eric Owens, an editor at The Daily Caller. Owens “has a long history of penning racially insensitive, sexist, and transphobic attacks on students and teachers.” 

Owens, for example, wrote in The Daily Caller that white privilege is a “radical and bizarre political theory that white people enjoy a bunch of wonderful privileges while everyone else suffers under the yoke of invisible oppression.” In another Daily Caller column, Owens called college students “delicate, immature wusses who become traumatized, get the vapors and seek professional counseling any time they face adversity.”

Owens is also obsessed with female teachers who sexually assault male students, repeatedly writing exploitative stories about the incidents.

After Brown joined Facebook, The Daily Caller was named an official Facebook fact-checking partner, despite The Daily Caller’s history of inaccurate reporting. 

Brown thinks Breitbart is a “quality” news source

Brown’s role with The 74 raises further questions about the ideological underpinnings of Facebook’s nascent news tab, which has not been rolled out to all users. Brown’s team elected to include Breitbart — an unreliable and noxious right-wing site that was literally caught laundering white nationalist talking points —  among the 200 “quality” sources included in the launch. 

Of course, Mark Zuckerberg hates Elizabeth Warren too, because she has talked about breaking up the big tech monopolies, such as Facebook, and taxing the personal wealth of billionaires.

Foxconn is the giant Taiwanese tech company that manufactures electronic products for major tech companies around the world. They are known for poor working conditions and long hours, also for employee suicides on the job. When Scott Walker was governor of Wisconsin, his great coup (or so he thought) was to woo Foxconn to open five “innovation centers” in the state. This was supposed to create jobs. Foxconn won billions in tax breaks and incentives. That was 2017. But not a single innovation center has opened, and according to this article, none is on track to open. While Walker made grandiose plans for Foxconn, he cut the budgets of schools and universities, which is the usual place to spur innovation.

Looks like he was hoaxed.

Electronics manufacturer Foxconn’s promised Wisconsin “innovation centers,” which are to employ hundreds of people in the state if they ever get built, are officially on hold after spending months empty and unused, as the company focuses on meeting revised deadlines on the LCD factory it promised would now open by next year. The news, reported earlier today by Wisconsin Public Radio, is another inexplicable twist in the nearly two-year train wreck that is Foxconn’s US manufacturing plans.

The company originally promised five so-called innovation centers throughout the state would that employ as many as 100 to 200 people each in high-skilled jobs, with the Milwaukee center promising as many as 500. Those jobs were to complement the more than 13,000 jobs Foxconn said its initial Wisconsin electronics manufacturing factory would bring to the US, in exchange for billions in tax breaks and incentives that Governor Scott Walker granted the company back in 2017.

 

Two articles were published recently about a new book that makes the point that billionaires pay at a lower tax rate than middle-class Americans.

The book is The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

David Leonhardt writes in the New York Times, in a column called “The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You”: 

For the first time on record, the 400 wealthiest Americans last year paid a lower total tax rate — spanning federal, state and local taxes — than any other income group, according to newly released data.

Since then, taxes that hit the wealthiest the hardest — like the estate tax and corporate tax — have plummeted, while tax avoidance has become more common.

President Trump’s 2017 tax cut, which was largely a handout to the rich, plays a role, too. It helped push the tax rate on the 400 wealthiest households below the rates for almost everyone else.

The overall tax rate on the richest 400 households last year was only 23 percent, meaning that their combined tax payments equaled less than one quarter of their total income. This overall rate was 70 percent in 1950 and 47 percent in 1980.

Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post:

In 2018, for the first time in history, America’s richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class.

The Triumph of Injustice,” by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley, presents a first-of-its kind analysis of Americans’ effective tax rates since the 1960s. It finds that in 2018 the average effective tax rate paid by the richest 400 families in the country was 23 percent, a full percentage point lower than the 24.2 percent rate paid by the bottom half of American households.

In 1980, by contrast, the 400 richest had an effective tax rate of 47 percent. In 1960, that rate was as high as 56 percent. The effective tax rate paid by the bottom 50 percent, by contrast, has changed little over time.

When you see these data, it becomes clear why our society can’t afford to pay for good education or healthcare that covers everyone.

Consider this:

Forbes annually publishes a list of the 400 richest people in America.

This is the 2019 list. 

Number one is Jeff Bezos. He lost some of his net worth because of his divorce. His ex-wife collected over $36 billion from Jeff, which made her one of the 400.

The rich have gotten so rich that 221 billionaires didn’t make the cut.

Under our current tax structure, the top 400 will continue to get richer and richer, while the public sector pays more for defense and less for social welfare.

Our tax structure is a statement of our priorities.

What do we value?

Why, in a democracy, do people who are living from paycheck to paycheck—or have no steady job— support politicians who voted to reduce the taxes of the Forbes 400? Why do they put on a red hat and cheer for the man who gave the Forbes 400 a hefty tax cut?