Report: Silver Spoon Oligarchs: How America’s 50 largest inherited-wealth dynasties accelerate inequality
Fifty dynastic billionaire families hold as much wealth as the bottom half of U.S. families. Their wealth grew at ten times the rate of ordinary families over the last 40 years.
IPS researchers found that by 2020, the 50 families had amassed $1.2 trillion in assets. For the 27 families on the Forbes 400 list in 1983, their combined wealth had grown by 1,007 percent, from $80.2 billion to $903.2 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, and for the five wealthiest dynastic families, their wealth increased by a median 2,484 percent during 37 years. The Walton family led the pack with an increase of 4,320 percent, while the Mars candy family saw its wealth increase 3,517 percent.
While media attention focuses on first-generation billionaires – and their shocking tax avoidance as chronicled by ProPublica – we neglect to look at the troubling growth of dynastic families and the changes in tax policies that will enable the children of today’s billionaires to become tomorrow’s oligarchs.
For the Sake of Justice
In 1993, Stephen Breyer, then the chief justice for the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, was hit by a car while riding his bike. He suffered a few broken ribs and a punctured lung. Despite the accident, Breyer left his hospital bed just a few days later and traveled to the White House to interview with President Bill Clinton about an opening on the US Supreme Court.
The interview didn’t go as Breyer might have hoped. Clinton ended up choosing Ruth Bader Ginsburg to fill the vacancy left by Byron White’s retirement. But a year later, another Supreme Court justice retired: Harry Blackmun. Blackmun, of course, was the conservative Nixon appointee who famously became a liberal stalwart on the bench. It was Blackmun who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, which, I’m sure, is not something Nixon had in mind when he appointed him.
Miranda rights: Where did the right to remain silent come from
Sgt. Joe Friday on “Dragnet” delivered the lines we have all heard on TV cop shows for years in his characteristic monotone, just-the-facts-ma’am voice.
Wisecracking “Law and Order” detective Lennie Briscoe always added a little dig when he put the cuffs on a bad guy. “You probably know this next part by heart. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law …” Briscoe said in one episode of the popular crime drama that enjoyed a 20-year run and spawned several spinoffs.
Everyone who he ever turned on the television probably knows those 41 words just as well as or better than they know the Pledge of Allegiance.
Justice delayed is justice denied. I lost my family to Iran Regime’s barbarity
On May 4, over 1,100 families of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran wrote a letter to the international community. We called on the United Nations and European and American governments to take immediate action in preventing the regime from further destruction of their loved ones’ graves.
I was one of the signatories. I have lost six of my relatives to the regime’s cruelty. I was seven years old when my parents were arrested for their democratic ideals and activism. My father, Dr. Morteza Shafaei, was a well-respected and popular physician in Isfahan. He was admired by people because he was extremely compassionate and giving to others. He was brutally executed by the regime in 1981 simply because he sought a democratic future for his family and his compatriots.
Thinking globally about racial justice
Last summer, Black Lives Matter protests in the United States after the murder of George Floyd echoed around the world.
Evoked by the worldwide visibility of the brutal killing on video, this solidarity also reflected visceral anger against police violence in a host of other countries — including African countries like Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria. Millions across the world, not just the U.S., watched the trial of Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. The celebration and relief at Chauvin’s conviction won’t just be felt here.
Today’s global crises — police violence, a global pandemic, the climate emergency, and many more — require action wherever we live. But they also require global collaboration on a scale never seen before.
Sensing Injustice: A Lawyer’s Life in the Battle for Change
By the time he was 26, Michael Tigar was a legend in legal circles well before he would take on some of the highest-profile cases of his generation. In his first U.S. Supreme Court case—at the age of 28—Tigar won a unanimous victory that freed thousands of Vietnam War resisters from prison. Tigar also led the legal team that secured a judgment against the Pinochet regime for the 1976 murders of Pinochet opponent Orlando Letelier and his colleague Ronni Moffitt in a Washington, DC car bombing. He then worked with the lawyers who prosecuted Pinochet for torture and genocide. A relentless fighter of injustice—not only as a human rights lawyer, but also as a teacher, scholar, journalist, playwright, and comrade—Tigar has been counsel to Angela Davis, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), the Chicago Eight, and leaders of the Black Panther Party, to name only a few.
A Lawyer’s Life in the Battle for Change is a vibrant literary and legal feat. In it, Tigar weaves powerful legal analysis and wry observation through the story of his remarkable life.
Listen: Tigar on “Sensing Injustice” and almost every case imaginable (“Law and Disorder”)
If you want to hear more of the details and stories around the trials of the Chicago 8, Julian Assange, Lynne Stewart, Pinochet, and dozens more dramatic court cases with direct impacts on each of our daily lives, then it will be well worth your while to give your ear to Law and Disorder‘s most recent conversation with Michael Tigar.
Still, in his book Sensing Injustice, Tigar goes well beyond merely, if magnificently, narrating a profound array of legal battles. Tigar well understands the limits of law, and the lawyer, in the fight for justice — as do his fellow lawyers Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith —and challenging existential questions about the nature of the legal profession also come up in the Law and Disorder interview
‘Justice for All’ Requires Access to Justice
Starting from day one, the Biden-Harris administration launched an ambitious agenda to help vulnerable and underserved communities across the country with a volley of executive actions designed to course-correct and tackle the nation’s most urgent crises. These swift and bold steps will help communities that have far too often been harmed, marginalized, and overlooked by government policies. In the months ahead, the administration can bolster many of its priorities through strong federal leadership and the incorporation of access to justice strategies that aim to strengthen both the civil and criminal legal systems.
The Center for American Progress has previously called for reestablishing the Obama-era Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as a key step to accomplishing its justice priorities.
To Achieve Mental Health Equity, Dismantle Social Injustice
Substance use disorders and other problems cannot be addressed from a position of willful ignorance about our society’s inequalities.
In her book Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, Ijeoma Oluo describes a phrase that she and her fellow social justice advocates use whenever injustice occurs in society: “works according to design,” meaning that our unequal society didn’t come about by accident – it was designed to keep historically marginalized people on the margins.
WHY THE INNOCENT PLEAD GUILTY AND THE GUILTY GO FREE
A senior federal judge’s incisive, unsettling exploration of some of the paradoxes that define the judiciary today, Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free features essays examining why innocent people plead guilty, why high-level executives aren’t prosecuted, why you won’t get your day in court, and why the judiciary is curtailing its own constitutionally mandated power.
How can we be proud of a system of justice that often pressures the innocent to plead guilty? How can we claim that justice is equal when we imprison thousands of poor Black men for relatively modest crimes but rarely prosecute rich white executives who commit crimes having far greater impact? How can we applaud the Supreme Court’s ever-more-limited view of its duty to combat excesses by the president?