Old Howard Union

66 – Monopolistic and Predatory: When the Concertration of Wealth Becomes A National Security Concern.


Show Notes

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  1. After the Bailouts, Will Taxes Go Up? https://nyti.ms/2WB5jcE
• Mr. Fink predicted more bankruptcies and higher taxes on a call with clients of a wealth advisory firm. He sees the U.S. corporate tax rate going to as high as 29 percent next year, from 21 percent now, to help pay for government rescue efforts. (He expects the individual rate to rise as well.) He thinks many companies will reopen with only half of their staff at the office, which could
• Small businesses fear that their rescue loans might not be forgiven, The Times’s Alan Rappeport and Emily Flitter report. Borrowers took the money “assuming that it would be a grant, but it’s not,” said a banking lobbyist.
• The Federal Communications Commission fined Sinclair Broadcasting a record $48 million yesterday. The penalty stems from Sinclair’s thwarted attempt to buy Tribune Media, a rival local TV station operator.
• Sinclair bid $3.9 billion for Tribune in 2017 to create a local-TV colossus with 215 stations across the country. It would have given Sinclair, known for its conservative leanings, a way to challenge Fox News.
2. Bernie Sanders: The Foundations of American Society Are Failing Us https://nyti.ms/3bm6u5D
• wealth inequality, that reality means little to half of our people who live paycheck to paycheck, the 40 million living in poverty, the 87 million who are uninsured or underinsured, and the half million who are homeless.
• As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them are also losing their health insurance.
3. A Wealth Tax Is the Logical Way to Support Coronavirus Relief https://nyti.ms/2yxqpjw
• Congress has already enacted three bipartisan relief packages, including the Cares Act, that collectively provide roughly $2 trillion in pandemic aid. Further assistance is hopefully on the way. These are necessary but enormous public expenses. To put them in perspective, the stimulus package enacted in the shadow of the Great Recession was $831 billion, while recent annual federal budget deficits average about $700 billion.
• But borrowing will in the end burden the young, who — already worse off than their parents’ generation — are now suffering their second economic calamity in a decade. Instead, the relief effort should be funded through a one-time wealth tax imposed on the richest Americans, whose wealth has exploded alongside rising inequality.
• The wealthiest 5 percent of American families now hold $57 trillion, or two-thirds of all household wealth in the country (up from about half in 1960). An exemption for the first $2.5 million of household wealth would exclude the bottom 95 percent from paying any tax at all and leave the top 5 percent with total taxable wealth of roughly $40 trillion. A 5 percent tax on the richest 5 percent of households could thus raise up to $2 trillion.
• The initial stock-market bump triggered by the Cares Act’s passage added more than $4 trillion to the value of equities in the United States, and the richest 10 percent of households, holding 84 percent of American-owned stocks, benefited from this bump to the tune of roughly $2 trillion.
• The Sanders and Warren programs hold appeal, especially for progressives, but they also face challenges. The focus on extreme wealth reduces the tax base and therefore the revenue raised — while the top 5 percent hold two-thirds of the wealth, the top 0.1 percent hold roughly one-sixth.
4. We Need Amazon During the Coronavirus. That’s a Problem. https://nyti.ms/2Jv0Wtu
• During the pandemic, reliable delivery of essentials like milk, eggs, toilet paper and cleaning supplies has been a lifeline for those who are reluctant or unable to venture outside their homes — Amazon-branded trucks have remained a familiar sight in residential neighborhoods. The competitive advantages of Amazon’s meticulously constructed worldwide logistics network, built to shuttle nearly every imaginable item to customers in as little as an hour, are especially evident in this crisis.
• At Amazon, white-collar employees were sent home while the company’s army of pickers and packers have had to brave outbreaks in at least 21 facilities. Some 1,500 Amazon employees signed a petition this month seeking workplace improvements in the face of Covid-19. And attorneys general in 14 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, urging him to loosen its sick leave policy.A few workers at a Staten Island Amazon warehouse walked off the job Monday in protest, after one employee tested positive for coronavirus, prompting Amazon to fire one of the organizers. New York State’s attorney general said Monday she was investigating the dismissal. Others were planning to skip work at the company’s Whole Foods grocery stores Tuesday over its sick leave policies.
• Consumers may be at a disadvantage, too. Because Amazon relies on smaller sellers for the majority of sales, price gouging remains a problem. And while prioritizing storage and delivery of products it deems “essential” during the pandemic — such as “household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products” — Amazon has also appeared to include its own branded devices in the “essential” category.
• Even in less frantic times, Amazon has been criticized for its workplace culture and its heavy-handed tactics with sellers. Last year, The Wall Street Journal contended that Amazon may be losing control of its own marketplace, allowing dangerous counterfeits to appear on its virtual shelves that would never pass muster at traditional retailers. Both Walmart and Amazon have quashed unionization efforts.