Author Topic: Racial Wealth Gap  (Read 3778 times)


Offline MindofShadow

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2018, 07:24:47 am »
white people never get this. they never understand

they see racism as only hood wearing klans men and segregation.

so since we "fixed" that, racism is gone.

Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2019, 07:12:15 am »
Friday, 15th February 2019

Will 'basic income' become the California norm? Town starts $500 no-strings payments
by Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks


(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) - After months of planning, Stockton, Calif., is sending debit cards loaded with $500 to a select group of residents starting Friday as part of a closely watched experiment in universal basic income, the first led by a U.S. city.

Stockton, once dubbed "America's foreclosure capital," was the largest city to seek bankruptcy protection before Detroit's 2013 filing. During the recession, unemployment soared toward 20 percent, and violent crime rose.

Today, one in four residents lives below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Now, as the city slowly recovers from financial disarray, officials and advocates look to the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, or SEED, to provide insight on whether a long-term basic income program is a viable creative approach to lifting residents out of poverty.

"The need has only been reiterated" in the last few weeks of preparation, SEED director Sukhi Samra said. "Folks are ready to use this money to pay bills, to save for the future, to pay off debt and pay for medicine."

Each month for 18 months, 130 adults living in the city's lower-income neighborhood will receive $500 to spend however they want.

Researchers with SEED will track, study and analyze how the income boost affects residents' spending and saving habits, and how it influences other factors such as quality of life and financial stability.

The money for the program comes from a $1 million grant from the Economic Security Project, a network organization that has raised $10 million to fund and explore universal basic income programs and their viability.

"I think (the program) will make people work better and smarter and harder," Mayor Michael Tubbs told NPR last year.

"We're not just designed just to work all day and run a rat race. We're designed to be in community, to volunteer, to vote, to raise our kids. And I think the more inputs and investments we can give in people to do those things, the better off we are as a community."

Last year, 4,200 letters were randomly sent to individuals living in areas with a median household income at or below $46,033, the city's median at the time.

That approach let the program target poorer communities while allowing selection of a diverse pool of participants, Samra said.

The only other eligibility requirement was that participants be at least 18 years old.

From the respondents, SEED selected a group of 130 recipients taking into account the city's gender, age and racial diversity, Samra said.

Researchers will regularly check in with recipients to conduct quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews -

"How are people feeling? How are people spending money? Are people spending more time with families? How are health outcomes changing?" Samra said.

The idea of universal basic income is simple - giving money to everyone, regardless of income level or employment status, with no restrictions on the expenditures.

As wages, particularly for low-skilled workers, have failed to keep up with inflation, and experts warn technological developments in nearby Silicon Valley herald an artificial intelligence revolution that could make many low-wage jobs obsolete, universal basic income has gained attention as a policy idea to address wealth inequality.

In California, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris proposed a bill last year what would provide middle class and working families a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year that could be accessed as a monthly check of up to $500.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he supports pilot universal basic income programs.

Several other countries conducted similar cash-transfer experiments, including Finland and Canada. Tech incubator Y Combinator conducted a feasibility study in Oakland that gave a few dozen residents between $1,500 and $2,000 beginning in 2016, and will soon conduct an expanded trial involving 1,000 people across two U.S. states.

But UC Berkeley public policy and economics professor Hilary Hoynes said interpretations of what constitutes success for a universal basic income pilot program vary.

Will more individuals be able to shift toward jobs pursuing their interests with fewer worries about living paycheck to paycheck, or will fewer people work in the labor market all together - and is that a good thing?

Both programs in Finland and Canada have ended, with no plans to continue or expand.

Moreover, to implement a feasible universal basic income program, Hoynes said, policymakers and advocates would need to grapple with whether payments should be pegged to income levels – whether, when "you earn $20,000 or $60,000 or $100,000, (governments) start tapering out benefits," for example.

"A universal payment of $12,000 per year to each adult U.S. resident over age 18 would cost roughly $3 trillion per year," reads a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Hoynes and UC Berkeley professor Jesse Rothstein.

Still, Hoynes said, there could be benefits to a pilot program such as SEED to better understand what recipients spend their money on, and the long-term effects of modest income increases on educational or employment decisions, in spite of its sample size and short duration.

Hoynes isn't convinced universal basic income will be the solution to mass unemployment spurred by an artificial intelligence revolution, but she does believe the concepts are helpful in discussions about wage stagnation among low-skilled workers.

For Samra, SEED is doing just that – fostering a dialogue to help reimagine social welfare and benefit programs for Americans.

"SEED has already contributed to that conversation and re-conceptualizing what dignity is and not tying to work," she said.

"Around deservedness and the poor and the working poor."

SEED hopes to feature the stories of some recipients beginning in March.

The program will run until August 2020.

Offline Hypestyle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2019, 02:51:01 pm »
Hopefully this pilot program will be successful. I wouldn't mind something like that being started in Michigan, to help out poorer folks here. (and I'm still trying to get out of here, cute new governor notwithstanding).   ;)
Be Kind to Someone Today.

Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2019, 11:33:32 am »
(...cute new governor notwithstanding).   ;)




You're not kidding, Hype!

Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2020, 07:56:29 am »
Sunday, 22nd September 2019 (originally posted)
Universal Basic Income can work.

I know it could be the difference between life and death

by Kathy Lison





I am the daughter of a single mother, a mother who raised me and my sister with the help of food stamps, visits to the local food pantry and government-subsidized housing.

I’m the daughter, that is, of the sort of mother now at the center of a burgeoning national debate about universal basic income.

Does such a mother — and it is almost always a question of mothers — deserve, say, $1,000 a month from the government or candidate Andrew Yang, no strings attached?

Can we trust her with such a sum? Won’t she just use it to buy cigarettes and vodka?

It’s true my mother might have bought a few cigarettes — though she rarely drank, she did smoke.

What I remember most though is watching her scratch figures on a back page of her calendar, playing that month’s cat-and-mouse game of paying the bills.

As a teenager, I didn’t know the details of our financial situation, but I knew it wasn’t good.

It had never been good.



Toward the end of every month, my mother never failed to say, “I’m broke.”

She’d been born a farm girl and throughout her life retained a solid, Midwestern work ethic, even if farm chores didn’t exactly thrill her.

Her younger brother was the one who got sent to college, while she had to make do with high school.

At 18, she married my dad:

a nice Catholic boy who turned out to be an abusive drunk.



Giving birth to me gave her the courage to finally divorce him, after which she struggled through seven years of making ends meet only to get pregnant again.

Another mouth to feed actually meant hope for a while:

She went back to school, got a two-year degree in accounting.

When the economy went sour, however, even her new degree couldn’t keep her from getting laid off.


If you’re wondering whether $1,000 more a month (approximately $450 in 1987, when I was in high school) would have made an appreciable difference in our lives, I can tell you the answer is yes.

Why?

Because after years of trying and failing to get ahead, my scrupulously honest mother did something I’m sure she never thought she’d do:

took a job working for cash in a blue-collar tavern owned by an old friend, income she didn’t report to the unemployment office.

Mom had done the math; she knew the calculus.

There was no other way at that point she could do more than just get by. No other way to stop saying, “I’m broke.”

I seem to recall she made about $60 a shift bartending, something she usually did on Sundays.

Until the Sunday two men came into the bar, stole what money there was in the register and strangled her to death.

The irony of my mother’s murder was that it accomplished what she could not:

First, it pulled my sister and me firmly into the middle class.

We went to live with our uncle and his family, the younger brother who’d gone to college and had a good-earning job.

Second, and more important, after my mother’s mother, our grandmother from the farm, died, we each got half of a modest inheritance.


I graduated from college — as my mother had been determined I would — yet more than my education, the thing that helped me escape the poverty that might otherwise have been my destiny was that inheritance, her inheritance.



It was the money.

That money helped pay for school (I never had a student loan), freed me to study abroad (learning French made writing my first book possible) and made the down payments on my first several houses.

A little money can make a big difference.

I understand the fear that poor people will abuse anything given to them.

Or the feeling that they shouldn’t be given things, and the corollary to that, that they don’t deserve much.

That they are somehow to blame for their impossible situations.

I might think that way too had I not lived it.

Had I not grown up watching my mother and the many, too many, other mothers that filled our apartment complex fighting just to give themselves and their kids some place decent and safe to live, to put food on the table.

Fighting, that is, to get out.

My mother didn’t make it.

But with a little trust — and with some money — maybe there are others who will.








Would You Like To Know More?
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-09-20/universal-basic-income-andrew-yang-2020-campaign-sandra-lison-homicide

Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2020, 08:02:18 am »
Friday, 13th March 2o2o
Representative AOC demands the government distribute a 'Universal Basic Income' and implement 'Medicare for all' to fight Covid-19
by Eliza Relman




Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive lawmakers are calling for a significantly more robust federal-government response to the coronavirus than has so far been proposed by both Democrats and Republicans.

The House is preparing to vote on Thursday on a coronavirus-relief bill that would provide Americans with paid sick leave, food assistance, free coronavirus testing, and more substantial unemployment benefits.


But Ocasio-Cortez pushed for a more sweeping response, including expanding Medicare or Medicaid to cover all Americans, a freeze on evictions, a universal basic income, ending work requirements for food-assistance programs, criminal-justice reform, and freezing student-debt collection.

"This is not the time for half measures," she tweeted on Thursday.

"We need to take dramatic action now to stave off the worst public health & economic affects. That includes making moves on paid leave, debt relief, waiving work req's, guaranteeing healthcare, UBI, detention relief (pretrial, elderly, imm)."


Ocasio-Cortez said the expansion of unemployment benefits wouldn't help the many millions of Americans, including tipped and contracted workers, who are suffering economically as a result of the pandemic but aren't necessarily losing their jobs.

Democrats are attempting to bring Republicans on board with the legislation, but the Executive Mansion and gop lawmakers are resisting it.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the bill "completely partisan" and "unworkable."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the legislation "an ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances."

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has remained defiant.

"We cannot slow the coronavirus outbreak when workers are stuck with the terrible choice between staying home to avoid spreading illness and the paycheck their family can't afford to lose," she said in a Wednesday statement.

On Thursday morning, Pelosi told reporters that Congress wouldn't leave Washington without passing legislation to address the pandemic and resulting economic crisis.


(Congress is scheduled to go on recess next week).

"We're bringing this bill to the floor," she said.



Meanwhile, the president has proposed a massive fiscal stimulus centered on a temporary Social Security payroll-tax cut that would add about $1 trillion to the national debt — more costly than both the 2008 Wall Street bailout and the 2009 stimulus bill designed to combat the Great Recession.

There is widespread bipartisan skepticism about the cost and effectiveness of drumphf's proposal, and it would face an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled House.


Critics say the payroll-tax cut wouldn't be targeted enough and would disproportionately help higher-income Americans.

After calling for unity during an address to the nation on Wednesday night, drumphf attacked Pelosi on Thursday morning for refusing to back his plan.

"Nancy Pelosi all of a sudden doesn't like the payroll tax cut, but when Obama proposed it she thought it was a brilliant thing that all of the working families would benefit from because if you get a paycheck, you're going to take home more money," he tweeted, quoting a host of "fox and Friends."




















« Last Edit: March 13, 2020, 08:15:22 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2020, 08:14:01 am »
Friday, 13th march 2o2o
Yes, Rashida Tlaib is Right to Give You Money

by Natalie Foster




For the small group of people who work toward establishing a guaranteed income professionally, we are used to the furrowed brows and looks of skepticism that come with explaining what we do to most people outside our network.

"You want to give people money?"

"Yes, exactly!"

The inevitable follow-up is why not invest instead in education or healthcare or housing?


We should have all those things, and we can afford all those things as a country, but we should also understand that the needs of each individual differ, and cash allows people the flexibility to take care of whatever's most pressing in the moment.


In fact, we have a lot of empirical evidence that shows that cash is one of the most effective ways to alleviate the harms of income instability and poverty.

When I first started working on a guaranteed income in late 2016, these conversations usually fizzled out quickly—even among my most open-minded friends and colleagues.

Now, less than three years later, the simplicity and common sense behind providing poor and middle-class Americans with cash benefits is no longer a radical idea.


In the past few months, we've seen leading political figures introduce different versions of a similar policy—providing credits to Americans through the tax system.


From Senator Kamala Harris's LIFT Act to Senator Cory Booker's Rise Act, policy solutions to the rising cost of living and increased income inequality are now a cornerstone of the progressive movement.

The latest entry into the push behind tax credits for the poor and middle class is Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who's set to introduce the Building Our Opportunities to Survive and Thrive (BOOST) bill in Congress.


The legislation would provide an income floor of up to $250 a month to individuals and $500 monthly to families.


Representative Tlaib says the inspiration behind the bill was sitting down with moms in her district who shared the struggles they face trying to make ends meet.

Their situation is increasingly common in an economy designed to siphon wealth to the very top, while those who toil in the hard work of supporting corporate profits find that a 40-hour work week is no longer enough to cover the bills.


In fact, even with the economy approaching full employment, nearly 40 percent of adults report that they have trouble meeting their basic needs – at the same time, the richest 0.1 percent of Americans now owns the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90 percent.


Cash is not only one of the most effective ways to address the varying needs of the poor and middle class, but this new generation of policies also marks an important shift in our cultural values around deservedness by challenging the harmful idea that a person's worth is directly correlated to their income.

Senator Booker's credit expands the definition of work to include unpaid caregiver and students, and Harris's extends to students.


Representative Tlaib's bill offers a monthly income guarantee to families making under $100,000, regardless of their existing income.


Contrary to popular conservative talking points, poor people aren't struggling because they're not budgeting well – they're struggling because a full-time job often doesn't meet basic needs, and because our current labor market structure's lack of paid parental and family leave along with shutting out of formerly incarcerated Americans leaves many potential workers without viable employment options.


The BOOST bill makes Representative Tlaib the newest entrant into a group of future-thinking policymakers who are driving a seismic shift toward the big idea of creating an income floor for all by providing cash to everyone in America who needs it most.


It also offers a way to implement a federal version of the local pilot work on guaranteed income being led in cities such as Stockton, CA and Jackson, MS – where recipients are reporting major improvements to their lives and livelihoods, such as being able to turn down overtime to help their children with their homework to being able to afford tuition to go back to school themselves.

It's time we break with outdated notions that the only way to measure the value of work is through a paycheck.


As any parent who's stayed up with a sick child all night or adult who's nursed a parent through terminal illness will tell you, some of the hardest, and most rewarding, labor that is done in this country comes without compensation.

We have the opportunity to change that, and doing so would benefit both our economy and our society.















Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2020, 04:41:19 am »
Tuesday, 7th April 2o2o
Spain is moving to permanently establish Universal Basic Income in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
by Joseph Zeballos-Roig





Spain is moving to implement a universal basic income as a measure to help workers battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nadia Calviño, the country's minister for economic affairs, told Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday evening that the government is planning to introduce it as part of a barrage of policies to help people get back on their feet.


She said enacting basic income was "mostly aimed at families, but differentiating between their circumstances.

Calviño didn't offer a specific date as to when basic income could be rolled out in the country.

But she said the government hoped it would become "a permanent instrument."

"We're going to do it as soon as possible," she said.


"So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and that it remains forever."


If the plan moves from proposal to reality, Spain would become the first nation in Europe to pass universal basic income, according to the Independent.

Finland had previously tried a two-year basic income experiment of its own that ended in 2019 with 2,000 unemployed residents, Business Insider's Aria Bendix reported.


Recipients reported they were happier and healthier, but many of them were still jobless.

It's not immediately clear what universal basic income could look like in Spain, given the proposal appears to be in its early stages.



But under the idea, the government would provide a monthly payment to citizens, free of any conditions.

Spain enacted a nationwide lockdown on March 14th to curb the spread of the virus, and effectively shut down the economy as restaurants, bars, and hotels were ordered to closed their doors.


The country reported over 135,000 cases so far and 13,000 deaths.

To date, Spain has rolled out scores of measures to provide relief to both corporations and average people.

The push for basic income in the US has its champions.



Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang thrust the idea of basic income into the mainstream with his plan for a "Freedom Dividend" during his presidential run, which ended earlier this year.

The plan would have guaranteed payments of $1,000 a month — or $12,000 a year — to every US citizen over the age of 18 without any strings attached.


To help Americans deal with the fallout of Covid-19, the trunk administration signed a law to provide millions of Americans with one-time $1,200 stimulus checks.



Individuals earning below $75,000 and couples making under $150,000 qualify for the full amount.


















« Last Edit: April 08, 2020, 02:27:16 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2020, 02:54:19 pm »
Tuesday, 13th October 2o2o
Mark Cuban: Every household in America should receive a $1,000 stimulus check every 2 weeks for the next 2 months
by Taylor Locke





With around 13 million Americans unemployed and thousands of businesses permanently closed across the U.S., experts warn that more stimulus will be needed for economic recovery amid the ongoing pandemic.

However, Congress is at an impasse, and it looks unlikely that a deal on another stimulus package will happen any time soon.

But “we need it as much now as we did back then,” at the start of the pandemic, Mark Cuban, self-made billionaire, investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, tells CNBC Make It.

Cuban says there are “two economies,” or two sets of realities, right now: One for those able to stay afloat and one for those unable to.

“Those without [help] are struggling badly,” he says.

“We need to get them help.”

To provide that help, Cuban supports more stimulus checks being dispersed, he says.

Cuban says that all American households, no matter their income level, should receive a $1,000 stimulus check every two weeks for the next two months.

He proposed this same idea in May and says “I still believe in doing it the exact same way” today.

Additionally, families would have to spend each check within 10 days, or they would lose the money, Cuban says.

He believes this “use it or lose it approach” would be beneficial because it would promote spending, which would help businesses stay open and stimulate the economy.

“I don’t care what they spend it on,” Cuban told KNX 1070 News Radio in May.

“It could be candy, it could be rent, it could be their mortgage, it could be anything they deem necessary or that they want.”

Without mandating the money be spent within 10 days of receipt, Cuban believes many Americans will save it.

“People are uncertain about their future, so rather than spending, they save,” he says.

He has a point: Many Americans have been saving more amid the pandemic than ever.

In April, the personal savings rate hit a record high, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

With Cuban’s plan, “the whole goal is to get that money every two weeks into the economy,” he says.

“Once businesses start having demand, even if they’re closed and working online, then there is a reason for them to be able to bring back employees and retain those employees if demand is sustained.”

Cuban acknowledges this plan would be costly.

“There is certainly a lot of risk in this use it or lose it approach,” he said in a tweet in May.

“But it will allow for demand for non-essential products and services to increase, hopefully keeping most businesses alive.”

However, Cuban’s plan would work better if it specifically targeted those most in need, Chuck Marr, senior director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tells CNBC Make It.

“What’s good about [Cuban’s plan], and what’s important, is he reflects the urgency of the situation,” Marr says.

“But I think you target money first for people that are hurting. People who are hurting and don’t have other income, they’re going to spend. I think if you did stimulus payments, they need to be targeted by income.”

Affluent Americans and those who can work from home are able to save more, Marr says.

Giving them extra money right now won’t necessarily encourage them to spend more.

Marr would also do away with the “use it or lose it” approach pitched by Cuban, he says.

“I don’t think the ‘spend it now’ is workable,” Marr explains.

“The government could not keep track of that.”

All in all, it does make sense to support additional stimulus payments, on top of “substantial unemployment and nutrition support,” Marr says.

“That combination of unemployment insurance and the stimulus checks in the spring and summer was very effective,” he says.

“It kept support for low- and middle-income people.”

To support the economy and struggling Americans amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress passed a record $2 trillion coronavirus aid package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act in March.

The legislation provided many Americans with a much-need boost, including a round of stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits and insurance, and forgivable loans for small business owners through the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP.

However, since many of the CARES Act provisions expired in July, that support is dwindling.

But Congress has yet to agree on a second stimulus package. Earlier this month, Senate Republicans failed to advance their “skinny” COVID-19 relief bill, as Congressional Democrats say the bill did not provide enough relief for Americans.

In a hearing on Tuesday, House Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to a deal that includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Some experts say that the death of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the debate over filling the now vacant seat will make an agreement nearly impossible going forward.

“What we’re seeing now [in Congress], is there is somewhat of a timeout, but there is no timeout for hunger,” Marr says.

“There is urgency [for a stimulus deal]. Congress needs to step up.”

























Would You Like To Know More?
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/23/mark-cuban-americans-should-get-a-1000-dollar-stimulus-check-every-2-weeks.html?__source=twitter%7Cmakeit+

Offline Battle

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2021, 05:53:03 pm »
Friday, 5th February Two Thousand and Twenty One
Abolish the Racist, Sexist Subminimum Wage
by Michelle Alexander



Once upon a time, I thought that it was perfectly appropriate for restaurant workers to earn less than minimum wage.

Tipping, in my view, was a means for customers to show gratitude and to reward a job well done.

If I wanted to earn more as a restaurant worker, then I needed to hustle more, put more effort into my demeanor, and be a bit more charming.

I thought this even when I was a waitress, working at a burger and burrito joint called Munchies during the summers when I was a college student.

Collecting tips gave me a certain satisfaction.

I liked sweeping dollar bills and coins off tables into the front pocket of my blue apron.

Each time someone left me a big tip, anything more than I expected, a tiny jolt of dopamine flooded my brain as though I had just hit a mini jackpot.

I got upset when people stiffed me, walking out and leaving nothing or just pennies — a true insult — but whenever that happened I reminded myself that I might get lucky next time.

Or I would do better somehow.

Never did it occur to me that it was fundamentally unjust for me to earn less than the minimum wage and to depend on the good will of strangers in order to earn what was guaranteed by law to most workers.

I had no idea that tipping was a legacy of slavery or that racism and sexism had operated to keep women, especially Black women like me, shut out of federal protections for wage labor.

I did not question tipping as a practice, though looking back I see that I should have.

The first week on the job, one of my white co-workers, a middle-aged woman from rural Oregon, pulled me aside after she watched a group of rowdy white men, who had been rude and condescending to me throughout their meal, walk out the door without leaving a tip.

“From now on, dear,” she said,

“I’ll take the rednecks. Just pass ’em on to me.”

This became a kind of joke between us — a wink and a nod before we switched tables — except it wasn’t funny.

The risk that my race, not the quality of my work, would determine how much I was paid for my services was ever-present.

So was the risk that I would be punished for not flirting with the men I served.

Men of all ages commented on my looks, asked me if I had a boyfriend, slipped me their phone numbers, and expected me to laugh along with their sexist jokes.

I often played along, after learning from experience that the price of resistance would be the loss of tips that I had rightfully earned.

The truth was, though, that I was shielded from the biggest risk that tipped workers face: not being able to make ends meet.

During the summers I spent waitressing, I was living at home with my parents and had my basic needs taken care of.

On days when business was slow, and only a few customers trickled in, I was reminded that my situation was not the norm.

I remember a co-worker crying at the end of her shift, because she hadn’t earned enough in tips to pay the babysitter.

I remember a few of us pooling our tips so another co-worker could buy groceries on her way home and feed her kids.

After I graduated from law school, I became a civil rights lawyer and began representing victims of race and gender discrimination in employment, as well as victims of racial profiling and police violence.

But it wasn’t until I read Saru Jayaraman’s book, “Forked: A New Standard for American Dining,” that I learned the history of tipping in the United States.

After the Civil War, white business owners, still eager to find ways to steal Black labor, created the idea that tips would replace wages.

Tipping had originated in Europe as “noblesse oblige,” a practice among aristocrats to show favor to servants.

But when the idea came to the United States, restaurant corporations mutated the idea of tips from being bonuses provided by aristocrats to their inferiors to becoming the only source of income for Black workers they did not want to pay.

The Pullman Company tried to get away with it too, but the Black porters, under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph, formed the nation’s first Black union to be affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and fought and won higher wages with tips on top.

Restaurant workers, however — who were mostly women — were not so fortunate.

The unjust concept of tips as wages remained in place for them.

And in 1938, when Franklin Roosevelt signed the nation’s first minimum wage into law, it excluded restaurant workers, a category that included a disproportionate number of Black people.

In 1966, when our nation’s minimum wage was overhauled, restaurant workers were even more formally cut out with the creation of a subminimum wage for tipped workers.

Today, 43 states and the federal government still persist with this legacy of slavery, allowing a tipped work force that is close to 70 percent female and disproportionately Black and brown women to be paid a subminimum wage.

A nation that once enslaved Black people and declared them legally three-fifths of a person now pays many of their descendants less than a third of the minimum wage to which everyone else is entitled.

The subminimum wage for tipped workers isn’t simply born of racial injustice; it continues to perpetuate both race and gender inequity today.

In the mid-1960s, the guaranteed wage for tipped workers was $0 an hour.

Today, the federal minimum wage for tipped workers is just $2.13 an hour — a just over $2 increase — and a mostly female, disproportionately women of color work force of tipped workers still faces the highest levels of harassment of any industry.

Women restaurant workers in states with subminimum wage report twice the rate of sexual harassment as women working in restaurants in the seven states that have enacted One Fair Wage — a full minimum wage with tips on top.

The women in these seven states — California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Montana, Minnesota and Alaska — can rely on a wage from their employer and are not as dependent on tips and thus feel empowered to reject the harassment from customers.

The unfair power dynamic between women tipped workers and male customers in most states has only worsened during the pandemic.

Women restaurant workers report being regularly subjected to ‘Maskual harassment’, in which male customers are demanding that women servers take off their masks so that they can judge their looks and their tips on that basis.

With tips now down 50 to 75 percent, male customers know women workers are more desperate than ever.

For Black women, the situation is especially dire.

Before the pandemic, Black women who are tipped restaurant workers earned on average nearly $5 an hour less than their white male counterparts nationwide — largely because they are segregated into more casual restaurants in which they earn far less in tips than white men who more often work in fine dining, but also because of customer bias in tipping.

With the pandemic, these inequities were exacerbated; nearly nine in 10 Black tipped workers reported that their tips decreased by half or more, compared to 78 percent of workers overall.

All workers were asked to do more for less — enforcing social distancing and mask rules on top of serving customers, for far less in tips.

Black workers were more likely to be punished by hostile customers for attempting to serve as public health marshals than other workers.

Seventy-three percent of Black workers reported that their tips decreased due to enforcing Covid-19 safety measures, compared to 62 percent of all workers.

Technically, federal law requires that employers must cover the difference when the hourly wage, subsidized by tips, does not amount to $7.25 an hour.

But in practice, that mandate is frequently ignored.

A federal review of employment records from 2010-2012 revealed that nearly 84 percent of full-service restaurants had committed wage and hour violations.

Fortunately, the subminimum wage for tipped workers might finally come to an end if Congress enacts the minimum wage policy in President Biden’s new $1.9 trillion relief package in its entirety.

The Raise the Wage Act, if passed, would not only raise the minimum wage to $15 minimum wage but also fully phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers.

This would be good news for women and people of color who’ve been denied a living wage and forced to endure harassment on the job, but it would ultimately benefit all tipped workers — and restaurants too.

Workers in the seven states that have One Fair Wage receive similar or even higher tips as the workers in 43 states with a subminimum wage, and restaurants in those seven states have higher sales.

The National Restaurant Association has wasted no time launching a campaign to convince Congress to maintain the subminimum wage for tipped workers and the low minimum wage.

This move hardly comes as a surprise.

For more than 150 years since Emancipation, the restaurant industry has poured millions of dollars into lobbying elected officials to maintain their exemption from having to pay their workers a fair wage, causing tens of millions of women and men to experience poverty, food insecurity, home insecurity, and inequality over generations.

As the Raise the Wage Act moves through Congress this month, the choice is clear:

our representatives can choose to roll over to the trade lobby yet again and perpetuate a legacy of slavery, or they can choose to listen to the millions of workers — disproportionately women and people of color who increasingly represent this nation’s future voters — and make history during Black History Month by ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers once and for all.







Michelle Alexander is a civil rights advocate, the author of “The New Jim Crow” and a contributing Opinion writer.

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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2021, 01:18:46 am »
Wednesday, 17th February Two Thousand and Twenty One

Joe Manchin Condemned by West Virginians for Opposing $15 Minimum Wage
by Aila Slisco






Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is under fire from West Virginia residents for opposing raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour despite representing one of the poorest states in the nation.

West Virginians associated with the Poor People's Campaign, an activist group that has been pressuring Manchin over the issue, urged the senator to reverse his stance during a virtual "Moral Monday" event.

Manchin is one of two moderate Senate Democrats that do not support the current effort to raise the minimum wage, which other Democrats hope to pass as part of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

"I'm speaking to you, Senator Manchin," said Jean Evansmore of the West Virginia Poor People's Campaign.

"We're going to help you be a better senator than you think you're capable of being. That COVID relief package includes that $15 minimum wage and of course by now you know the truth. You know that in West Virginia the minimum wage needs to be $23 in order for people to live, not wonder where their next meal is coming from."

Manchin told The Hill that he does not support the minimum wage increase on February 2nd, while adding that he would be "supportive of basically having something that's responsible and reasonable."

Manchin previously balked at the proposal regarding $1,400 COVID-19 relief checks, arguing that they should be given on a more strictly "targeted" basis, although he is believed to generally support the payments.

Evansmore was joined by other campaigners from the West Virginia chapter of the Poor People's Campaign, including Pam Garrison, who urged workers to "say enough is enough" because "we're tired of putting the filthy rich in silk beds and us sleeping on straws."

A number of West Virginia workers offered their personal pleas for Manchin to support the wage increase during the event.

"Do the right thing by your people, Senator Manchin, and for the nation," she added.

The current proposal would raise the federal minimum wage from the current rate of $7.25 per hour, where it has remained for nearly 12 years, to $15 per hour by 2025.

In West Virginia, a "living wage" would require $13.93 per hour for a single person without children, or $28.70 per hour for a single person with one child, according to MIT.

The current state minimum wage is $8.75 per hour, with the minimum for tipped workers being $2.62 per hour.

"We cannot heal this nation without full COVID relief of the minimum wage of $15," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign.

"There is no way we can go through the pain and poverty prior and since COVID and not make this a major part of our economic recovery and economic future... we need you to stop preying on poor and low-wealth folks and start paying poor and low-wealth folk so that they can live and have the fruit of their labor."

The Poor People's Campaign had been planning to hold a protest outside Manchin's Charleston office on the same day that the virtual event took place but was forced to cancel the protest due to poor weather.

The group said on Monday that Manchin asked for an in-person meeting, although it is unclear when the meeting might take place.

West Virginia is the second poorest state in the country based on mean household income, trailing only Mississippi, according to World Population Review.

Although the state minimum wage is higher than the national rate, it still falls well behind the $24 per hour rate that would be expected if the wage had not stalled but continued to grow in step with both inflation and productivity since 1968, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

In addition to Manchin, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) has also indicated that she does not support increasing the minimum wage to $15, reasoning that it is not directly related to the COVID-19 relief effort.

Senator Sinema has specifically argued that the wage hike should not be included as part of the budget reconciliation process, which Democrats are using in hopes of passing elements of the package with a simple majority, avoiding the need for GOP votes that would be required to meet a filibuster-proof majority of 60.





























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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2021, 09:18:48 am »
Tuesday, 9th March 2021
Kyrsten Sinema’s Thumbs-Down on $15 Minimum Wage Was a Disgrace to Women
by Lexi McMenamin






The Democrats have defined themselves in contrast to the Republican Party by attempting to embrace liberal representation politics.

As feminist columnist Jessica Valenti points out, misogyny is openly baked into republican politics, leaving space for Democrats to swoop in and claim the feminist mantle, in large part by focusing on electing “firsts.”

The 2018 election of Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, the first out bisexual woman in Congress, is one example of this.



However, Sinema caught national attention on Friday during the COVID-19 relief bill vote, when she thumbed-down a provision for an incremental raise towards a $15 minimum wage, live on C-SPAN in a vivid performance of coy white womanhood.

While the Biden team, during its campaign season, claimed that raising the minimum wage would be a priority, Democratic politics as usual meant they quickly backed down on this commitment in the COVID relief bill.

Following backlash to the scene, Sinema’s press secretary claimed it was “sexist” to comment on a woman lawmaker’s “body language.”

This scenario feels grossly representative of what stands for gender politics in the Democratic party.

What is “sexist” is the suggestion that women — especially women with significant positional power, whether via whiteness, cis-ness, or being a literal elected official — are ineligible for critique.

Furthermore, what about the sexism of choosing to abandon American women?

Sinema’s choice to reject a minimum wage hike — one that wouldn’t even meet the living wage in many American cities, but would push us in the right direction — will directly impact millions of women working minimum-wage jobs.

As Teen Vogue ESP fellow Jacqui Germain reports, the Fight for $15 and safer workplaces for women are directly linked:

Jobs where employees are paid poverty wages are harder to leave.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, many of the workers who would benefit from raising the minimum wage are college-educated women with children and workers of color, helping to eliminate the racial pay gap.

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is rejecting calls to step down from office following at least four public accusations of workplace harassment and other inappropriate behavior from former women staffers, not to mention his office’s mishandling of elder-care home deaths throughout the pandemic.

Cuomo is also facing accusations of bullying State Assemblyman Ron Kim, who pushed him for accountability over the nursing-home scandal, joining a growing narrative of bullying and mistreatment under the Cuomo administration.

“I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment, and humiliation — not by the governor or anyone else,” Lindsey Boylan, a former aide for the Cuomo administration, wrote in her essay describing her experiences.

This follows what is becoming a trend amongst Democratic leaders:

Electing women is supposed to be the real achievement for feminism.

However, the women whose humanity the Democratic establishment seem to most care about preserving are privileged white women, which hardly differentiates them from their legislators across the aisle.

The party claims to champion the #MeToo movement, but we’ve seen multiple examples of women being sidelined or criticized after raising complaints of mistreatment by powerful lawmakers.

It’s not just the Cuomo administration, it’s all over Democratic politics.

Aaron Coleman, a 20-year-old Kansas State representative, openly admitted to abusive behavior (including revenge porn, bullying, and physical abuse) during his 2020 campaign and refused to drop out of his race, which he later won.

And, of course, when accusations arose against President Joe Biden during the 2020 race, Democratic officials from Kirsten Gillibrand to Stacey Abrams closed ranks around Biden, diminishing the significance of the accusations.

Gillibrand may have learned it wasn’t worth it to call out white male Democrats over harassment allegations after she led the charge in late 2017 for former senator Al Franken’s resignation, a choice that many Democrats are still smarting over.

What some Democrats seem to be missing, as New Republic writer Melissa Gira Grant points out, is that just as much as workplace harassment is a women’s issue, it’s a labor issue, and these dynamics are at play in the various accusations against Cuomo.

Look to the elder-care-homes scandal for proof:

Women of color disproportionately staff care homes (as well as other “care” fields made dangerous by the Covid-19 pandemic), and the majority of those residing in these homes are women.

This is in sharp contrast to the labor awakening that many have had due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has pushed American women to the breaking point, with women of color particularly impacted by COVID-19-induced unemployment (as the unemployment rate for white women dropped in January 2021).

Who do the Democrats think they’re representing?

In a 2020 report from Pew Research Center, more than half of women — and three-fourths of Democrats — surveyed said that the feminist movement had not gone far enough, with more than 80% pointing to sexual harassment as a roadblock to gender parity in the workforce.

At least there are some people taking this issue seriously.

A group of six socialist New York State legislators are calling for Cuomo to be impeached, which, if successful, would be only the second impeachment in state history.

It seems we can’t expect the same level of commitment to women, workers, and people of color from the Democrats.

A party that claims progressive feminist politics must actually practice them, and the Democratic Party as it stands is only looking to profit off claiming to be feminist.



























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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2021, 10:45:48 am »
Saturday, 3rd April Twenty One
Minimum wage would be $44 today if it grew at same pace as Wall Street bonuses
by Aimee Picchi





The disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street has perhaps never been more glaring in the past year, when the stock market hit new records even as tens of millions of people lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

But it's part of a longer-term trend, with Wall Street bonuses surging 1,217% since 1985, or about 10 times the pace for minimum wage workers during the same stretch.

If the federal minimum wage had kept up with the same growth as Wall Street bonuses, the baseline rate would be $44, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning think tank that examines income and pay inequality.

The baseline wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for more than 11 years, the longest period it's gone without an increase since it began in 1938.

The typical bonus for a Wall Street employee jumped 10% last year to $184,000, the New York State Comptroller said on Friday, which served as the basis for the IPS' analysis.

While there's been a push to increase the federal minimum wage, progress has so far proved elusive.

The Biden administration's goal of including a $15 baseline wage in the American Rescue Plan was abandoned partly after resistance from some lawmakers and business groups.

"This whole picture reinforces the total disconnect between Wall Street and the rest of the economy," said Sarah Anderson, IPS' global economy project director and the author of the analysis.

"The fact that people on Wall Street saw such a significant jump in a year when so many people are struggling says so much about the disparities of this crisis."

In 1985, a minimum wage worker earned about $7,000 annually, while Wall Street bonuses were about twice that, at $14,000 on average.

But by 2020, the typical Wall Street bonus stood at $184,000, more than 10 times higher than the $15,080 annual earnings from a minimum wage job.

Anderson said her analysis starts in 1985 because that's the earliest year for which she could find data on Wall Street bonuses.

An hourly wage of $44 an hour would equate to more than $91,000 in annual income—a healthy income, but still far below the average annual earnings of $406,700 for securities professionals, a figure that includes salary and annual bonus.

To be sure, it's not only Wall Street workers who have profited during the pandemic.

Since the COVID-19 brought the U.S. to a standstill last March, the economy has experienced what economists call a K-shaped recovery.

Low-wage workers continue to experience higher joblessness and income losses, while higher-paid workers—who can often perform their work remotely—are more likely to have bounced back.

About 4 in 10 Americans are continuing to experience a loss of income compared with pre-pandemic times, according to recent research from financial services firm TransUnion.

Its analysis found that about 1 in 5 adults are "in limbo," which TransUnion defines as people who have lost income and are unsure how their finances will recover, if at all.

Many of those who have yet to recover from the economic hit of the pandemic are women as well as people of color, an issue that's exacerbating long-standing inequalities in the economy, experts note.

On Wall Street, the people who are enjoying bumps to their bonuses tend to be white and male, according to the IPS' analysis.

For instance, about 63% of all securities industry employees are men, but only 33% of minimum wage workers are men.

About 8 in 10 securities industry workers are White, but about 5 in 10 workers who earn less than $15 an hour are White, the analysis found.

"The growing gap between the pay on Wall Street and lower levels of the economy is a driving force between gender and racial disparities," Anderson said.

"People of color and women are under-represented at the top end and over-represented at the bottom."
























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Re: Racial Wealth Gap
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2021, 01:54:33 pm »
Sunday, 4th April Twenty One
There’s No Such Thing as Noblesse Oblige
by Michael Mechanic










Paul piff just landed on Park Place.

I own it.

“sh*t,” he says.

I also own three railroads, a couple of high-rent monopolies, and a smattering of random properties.

Piff is low on cash.

He’s toast.

We’re playing Monopoly on a sunny pre-pandemic afternoon in Piff’s modest office at UC Irvine.

The 39-year-old psychology professor is an expert on how differences in wealth and status affect people’s values and behavior.

On his desk, accompanying an Iggy Pop figurine and a squeeze toy in the shape of a brain, is a framed print of a Campbell’s soup can with the slogan empathy… have some!

Piff may be an empathetic guy, but his frustration is showing.

He’s ready, he says, for this “absurd” game to be done so he can go home for dinner.

The game is absurd because it’s rigged heavily in my favor.

More than a decade ago, as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of the UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, Piff used a series of rigged Monopoly games to see how people would respond to being placed randomly into a position of privilege.

Some 200 student volunteers were pitted against one another.

The “rich” player was given twice as much cash as the “poor” player, collected twice as much money when passing Go, and passed Go more often, because he got to roll two dice while the poorer player got only one.

(Richie Rich also got the most popular playing piece, the little car, while his opponent received the undesirable boot.)


As the games progressed, rich players became more and more cocksure.

They spoke louder, moved their pieces more aggressively, and even consumed more pretzels from bowls that the researchers had put out as part of the experiment.

“We had little gradients on the table where you could measure how much space a person is taking up from when they began to when they ended,” Piff told me.

“The richer players began to take up more room. They got bigger as they got richer.”

It’s Piff’s turn; he rolls his die.

“Five. Tennessee. I’m not going to buy it.”

He can’t afford it.

The Monopoly experiment wasn’t the most rigorous science ever, and Piff never published the results, although the study was later replicated by others and referenced in Piff’s popular TED Talk,

“Does Money Make You Mean?”

But his observations were consistent with a large body of social science finding that people of higher socioeconomic status, compared with those lower down the ladder, are more prone to entitlement and narcissistic behavior.



Wealthier subjects also tend to be more self-oriented and more willing to behave unethically in their own self-interest (to lie during negotiations, say, or to steal from an employer).

In one study, Piff and his colleagues stationed a pedestrian at the edge of a busy crosswalk and watched to see which cars would let the person cross.

Suffice it to say that Fords and Subarus were far more likely to stop than Mercedeses and BMWs.

We find such research amusing because it jibes with our stereotypes of rich people.

But there’s nothing frivolous about asking how having an abundance of money affects our psychology.

After all, the ranks of the rich, and the wealth they command, have exploded in the United States since the end of the Great Recession.

Not even a pandemic could stop this avalanche of assets.

The ultrawealthy—Americans with $30 million and up—suffered a brief setback, but by September 2020 the markets had rebounded and the rich were very nearly whole again.

Even as the poor and middle class reeled from job losses and the threat of evictions and foreclosures, scores of new billionaires were minted.

Early in his career, Piff had observed that people were studying the causes and effects of poverty ad nauseam, but nobody was addressing the questions he wanted to ask.

Namely: What are the social and psychological ramifications of being on top of the economic food chain, of occupying positions of privilege?

Wealth-related differences in attitudes and behavior are particularly important wherever the rich have an outsize sway over politics and policy.

If, for instance, wealth makes people less compassionate, then a government that believes that the rich should behave in the interests of the populace may have to force them to do so.

Political scientists such as Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens have found notable differences in the policy preferences of affluent versus middle-class Americans, not only on purely economic matters like taxation but also on public-education funding, racial equity, and environmental protections, all of which the rich have been significantly less likely to support.

This matters because of the influence the rich have over government officials.

In one study, Gilens, now a professor at UCLA, combed through thousands of public survey responses and discovered that, on issues where the views of wealthy voters diverged significantly from those of the rest of the populace, the policies ultimately put in place “strongly” reflected the desires of the most affluent respondents—the top-earning 10 percent.

Those policies, the study concluded, bore “virtually no relationship to the preferences” of poorer Americans.

Wealthy people are less likely than poor ones, in lab settings at least, to relate to the suffering of others.

When people experience compassion, it turns out, our hearts actually slow down.

In 2012, Piff’s then-colleagues Michael Kraus and Jennifer Stellar hooked volunteers up to ECG machines and showed them two short videos: a “neutral” video of a woman explaining how to construct a patio wall and a “compassion” video of children receiving chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

Relative to the wealthier participants, the poorer ones not only reported feeling greater compassion for the kids but also exhibited a significantly larger slowdown in heart rate from one video to the next.

If affluent people are less moved by the suffering of others, they should be less likely to help those in need, and this too seems to be true both in the lab and outside it.

While wealthy families donate significantly more money to charity on average than poor families do, they tend to give away a smaller share of their income.

“As wealth goes up, the stinginess seems to increase,” Piff said.

Raymond Fisman, a behavioral economist at Boston University, has found that the elite—regardless of political affiliation—tend to be “efficiency minded” as opposed to “equality minded.”

He and several colleagues, including Daniel Markovits, the author of 2019’s The Meritocracy Trap, recruited a group of high-status liberals (Yale Law students) who identified as Democrats by a margin of more than 10 to one, and had them play a version of the so-called dictator game.

Participants were given tokens redeemable for cash and were told they could give as many tokens as they liked (or none at all) to a fellow participant.

An efficiency-minded person behaves more generously when helping someone else doesn’t cost her muchfor example, when she’s told she needs to give up only 10 tokens for the other participant to get 20.

But an equality-minded person is just as willing to share even if it costs her more.

These categories can be used to predict, for example, whether a person will support redistributive tax policies.

Despite their progressive leanings, 80 percent of the Yale students were efficiency focused compared with 50 percent of a public sample.

These results “offer a potential new explanation for the muted policy response to increased income inequality in the United States,” the study authors wrote, because “the policymaking elite” are “far less inclined than is the general population to sacrifice efficiency to promote equality.”

Which brings us back to Monopoly.



The most interesting part of the experiment, Piff said, came after, when players were asked to talk about what they had done to affect the game’s outcome.

The obvious answer was that the fix was in and the rich player got lucky.

But the rich players were almost twice as likely as the poor ones to talk about game strategy—how they’d earned their win.

And so it goes in the world.

Some of us are born better off than others,

“but that’s not how people experience relative privilege or relative disadvantage,” Piff said.

“What people do is attune to the things they’ve done: ‘I’ve worked hard. I worked hard in school.’ You start plucking out those things.”


Successful people tend to feel deserving of their lot.

As a corollary, they tend to view less-fortunate people as having earned their lack of success.

“So you’re more likely to make sense of inequality,” Piff explained, “to justify it, make inequality seem equitable.”

The psychologists Kraus and Keltner have found that people who rank themselves at the top of the social scale are significantly more likely to endorse essentialism, the notion that group characteristics are immutable and biologically determined—precisely the sort of beliefs used to justify the mistreatment of low-status groups such as immigrants and ethnic minorities.

Countless studies, Kraus writes, point to an upper-class tendency toward “self-preservation.”

That is, people who view themselves as superior in education, occupation, and assets are inclined to protect their group’s status at the expense of groups they deem less deserving:

“These findings should call into question any beliefs in noblesse oblige—elevated rank does not appear to obligate wealthy individuals to do good for the benefit of society.”

A layperson perusing the literature on wealth and behavior might conclude that wealthy people are assholes, but that’s not really fair.

“When I’m talking about these findings, it can just sound like flat-out rich-bashing, which I’m not interested in doing,” Piff said.

One can be extraordinarily rich and not exhibit these patterns, or be quite poor and exhibit them.

The effects that he and his colleagues describe are “small to medium,” and they are averages.

Further complicating our stereotypes is the fact that the most compassionate choice isn’t necessarily the best one.

Wealthy subjects, regardless of politics, are prone to a more utilitarian mindset then their less-wealthy counterparts, which enables them, as Piff and his co-authors note in one paper, to “make dispassionate choices to serve the greater good that others might find quite difficult.”

During a pandemic, for example, health authorities may have to weigh the likelihood that a given vaccine could severely harm a small number of recipients against the prospect that it could save millions of lives.


Piff’s Monopoly experiment was fun, but it didn’t come close to approximating our nation’s true economic divide.

He had to make sure the games weren’t too rigged, or the poor players wouldn’t bother trying.

I instead proposed a game in which I had the wealth of an average member of the top 1 percent, versus Piff’s middle-class net worth.

I would get about $53 for every $1 in his pocket.

But then we had a problem:

If we gave Piff $500 so he could buy a few properties, I would have been due $26,500.

A Monopoly set contains only $20,580.

We tried a new setup.

Piff would still represent the middle class, and I’d be a run-of-the-mill top-10 percenter.

He’d start with $500, and I’d get $4,500.

While we counted out our cash, Piff told me about the backlash his work has received over the years.

Tons of hate mail.

“I used to get a lot more. But I still probably get an email a day. I think most of it is political, because it seems so clearly ideologically driven.”

I asked whether he thought his progressive values affected his research findings.



“Probably inherently,” he admitted.

They likely affect the questions he chooses to ask.

As he elaborated, I suddenly realized I’d screwed up my math.

I actually should have had 10 times as much money as he had, not nine.

“So I’ll just take another $500, okay?”

He regarded me with a bemused expression.

“I love that as I was doing some personally revelatory sharing,” he said,

“probably some large proportion of your mind and attention was devoted to calculating out how much more you should’ve gotten.”

The nerve of the little people.









This essay was adapted from Michael Mechanic’s forthcoming book, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live―And How Their Wealth Harms Us All.