Oxfam’s latest report on global inequality has highlighted some alarming statistics on how wealth distribution has worsened during the pandemic. While the wealth of the world’s 10 richest men doubled since the pandemic began, the incomes of 99% of humanity became worse off because of COVID-19. What are the solutions to this crisis?Continue reading
Almost every single child on the planet (over 80% of them) had their education disrupted by the pandemic, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) agency. Though this finding is startling, it was certainly necessary to close schools as the infectious COVID-19 virus tore through society. What has been the impact of that decision on education? In 2017 – before the pandemic – at least 840 million people had no access to electricity, which meant that, for many children, online education was impossible. A third of the global population (2.6 billion people) has no access to the internet, which – even if they had electricity – makes online education impossible.Continue reading
Inequalities abound in the U.S. economy, and a central driver in recent decades is the widening gap between the hourly compensation of a typical (median) worker and productivity—the income generated per hour of work. This growing divergence has been driven by two other widening gaps, that between the compensation received by the vast majority of workers and those at the top, and that between labor’s share of income and capital’s. This paper presents evidence that the divorce between the growth of median compensation and productivity, the inequality of compensation, and the erosion of labor’s share of income has been generated primarily through intentional policy decisions designed to suppress typical workers’ wage growth, the failure to improve and update existing policies, and the failure to thwart new corporate practices and structures aimed at wage suppression.Continue reading
On the show this week, in the second of a two-part interview, Chris Hedges continues his discussion with philosopher Slavoj Zizek about the social, political and psychological consequences of prolonged lockdowns and social distancing, as well as the mass illness and death caused by the pandemic.
In his new book, ‘Pandemic 2: Chronicles of a Time Lost,’ Zizek argues the failure of global capitalism to cope with the pandemic presages, he fears, a systems collapse, a dress rehearsal for a frightening new form of authoritarianism in which the world is starkly divided between the elites and the rest of us. “…[T]he return to normality thus becomes the supreme psychotic gesture, the sign of collective madness,” Zizek writes.Continue reading
As federal lawmakers held a hearing Thursday on broadband equity, a new report details how the internet service provider industry, through hiked prices and disappearing lower-priced offerings, is exacerbating the digital divide.
Entitled Price Too High and Rising: The Facts About America’s Broadband Affordability Gap, the publication (pdf) from Free Press states that “the central fact is Americans pay too much for the internet.”
“By the start of 2020, nearly 80 million people still did not have adequate internet at home,” according to report author and Free Press research director S. Derek Turner. “Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people comprise a disproportionate number of those who are disconnected.”Continue reading
The past decade, particularly 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, has shone a light on the full extent of existing inequalities in the world. Ahead of this International Women’s Day, we would like to draw attention to ways that women – whether Indigenous, rural workers or those enduring an occupation – resist and mobilise in the face of multiple, long-term crises. Existing patriarchal systems, structural inequalities and discriminatory laws have long stalled meaningful progress towards gender equality and women’s rights. For women living in crises such as conflicts, facing recurrent environmental disasters and cyclical financial shocks, the Covid-19 pandemic has come as an additional blow, severely impacting their right to adequate food.
Conflict is a key and persistent driver of food system breakdown: more than half of undernourished people live in countries experiencing conflict. Extreme weather, economic shocks and climate change are also prevalent drivers of food crises and greatly affect food systems.Continue reading
On 6 January, gastroenterologist Leolin Katsidzira received a troubling message from his colleague James Gita Hakim, a heart specialist and noted HIV/AIDS researcher. Hakim, chair of the department of medicine at the University of Zimbabwe, had fallen sick and had tested positive for COVID-19. He was admitted to a hospital in Harare 10 days later and moved to an intensive care unit (ICU) after his condition deteriorated. He died on 26 January.
It is a crushing loss to Zimbabwean medicine, Katsidzira says. “Don’t forget: We have had a huge brain drain. So people like James are people who keep the system going,” he adds. Scientists around the world mourned Hakim as well. He was “a unique research leader, a brilliant clinical scientist and mentor, humble, welcoming and empowering,” wrote Melanie Abas, a collaborator at King’s College London.Continue reading
Over the past eight months since George Floyd was choked to death by the Minneapolis Police Department, demands to defund the police emanating from Minneapolis spread like wildfire, echoing in the streets, in petitions to policymakers, and in the testimonies of thousands of people calling and writing in to virtual council chambers. Calls to defund police and invest in communities were not only a response to the ongoing murders of Black people like Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the hundreds of others killed by police every year. They were also a manifestation of outrage at the ongoing abandonment of Black, Indigenous, migrant, unhoused, disabled, and low-income communities to the…Continue reading
We are facing converging global crises — a horrific pandemic, worsening economic inequality both in the United States and globally, climate change and the continuing scourge of systemic racism around the world. What would Martin Luther King Jr. think or advise if he were alive today? What might he say in these days after the Capitol Building was attacked by a primarily white mob that was seeking to usurp the results of a free and fair election and implement an America First agenda through violent force?
To get to these answers, we need to consider one of King’s most important and overlooked pieces of writing, The World House, a chapter in the last book he wrote, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”Continue reading
The rollout of fiber broadband will never make it to many communities in the US. That’s because large, national ISPs are currently laying fiber primarily focused on high-income users to the detriment of the rest of their users. The absence of regulators has created a situation where wealthy end users are getting fiber, but predominantly low-income users are not being transitioned off legacy infrastructure. The result being “digital redlining” of broadband, where wealthy broadband users are getting the benefits of cheaper and faster Internet access through fiber, and low-income broadband users are being left behind with more expensive slow access by that same carrier.Continue reading
In the run-up to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taking office on January 20, a key debate raging now is about what kind of change they will usher in. Some say it is clear from those two leaders’ biographies that they herald the bold transformations needed to tackle the inequalities that scar society. Others say it is clear from their biographies that they will not. History suggests, however, that neither of those arguments gets it quite right. That key to what happens is what we do, together.
For my new book, How to Fight Inequality, I looked at what we could learn from how inequality had been tackled in the past. What I found, across the world, was that progress in tackling inequality was never simply gifted by political leaders. It was won through people power.Continue reading
On her day off not long ago, emergency room nurse Jane Sandoval sat with her husband and watched her favorite NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers. She’s off every other Sunday, and even during the coronavirus pandemic, this is something of a ritual. Jane and Carlos watch, cheer, yell — just one couple’s method of escape.
“It makes people feel normal,” she says.
For Sandoval, though, it has become more and more difficult to enjoy as the season — and the pandemic — wears on.Continue reading
Growing up in Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood in the 1960s, Annette Britton spent a lot of time on Madison Street. She picked up produce for her mother at N&S Certified Food Mart, skated at the Albany roller rink and went to movies at the Imperial Theatre. A neighborhood pharmacy, Sacramento Drugs, not only filled prescriptions but served customers ice cream at a diner in back. Durham’s, an appliance store, sold washing machines and refrigerators.
Back then, stores, often with apartments above them, lined Madison Street from downtown west to the city limits.Continue reading
Mississippi – Yolanda Logan, the parent engagement coordinator for the Oxford School District, spent two weeks in July making home visits — some announced, some cold-calls — to check in on the students educators had been most worried about when schools shut down in the spring. Some had test scores at the bottom at their class. Some belonged to families who had been struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic struck and devastated the economy.
Logan asked the students, and the adults in their lives, how they were holding up and what support they needed.Continue reading
Our richest corporations are much to blame for the free-market “winner take all” philosophy that has caused over half of our nation to try to survive without adequate health care and life savings. With the 2017 corporate tax cuts came the lofty assurances that money would be freed up for new investment in jobs and R&D. So what happened? Hypocrisy happened. In the following year, S&P 500 companies set a new record for buying back their stock to artificially boost stock prices for management and investors—a practice that was illegal until the Reagan years. While about a third of S&P companies are now curtailing stock buybacks in response to the pandemic, others have depleted so much of their funds that they have turned to the pandemic-inspired CARES Act for relief to “distressed industries.”Continue reading