Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett Are Wealthier Than The Bottom Half of the Country Combined


(Photo: Shutterstock)

It can be hard to grasp just how much money is concentrated in just a few hands in our lopsided economy today. But here’s a start: The richest three people in the United States — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — together have more wealth than the entire bottom half of the country combined.

To put an even finer point on it: That’s three people versus about 160 million people.

To really comprehend just how insane the wealth concentration has become, consider Bezos, the head of Amazon. Worth about $ 90 billion, he recently was declared the richest man in the world. In October alone, his wealth jumped by $ 10 billion — or about $ 4 million per second.

Given his massive wealth, one might imagine that his company has enough to pay its warehouse workers a minimum of $ 15 an hour. But apparently it doesn’t. Amazon pays some of its workers as little as $ 12.84 an hour.

Read the full article on  LA Times.

The post Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett Are Wealthier Than The Bottom Half of the Country Combined appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


The NFL Should Do More Than Just Take A Knee


Colin Kaepernick (Photo:

When Colin Kaepernick began to protest during the national anthem at NFL games last year, he made his intent very clear. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media.

“To me, this is bigger than football,” he explained, “and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick made the brave decision to do this mostly alone — and of course faced the backlash and took the heat on his own. That was until President Trump decided to attack black sports players who raised awareness about racial injustice.

At a campaign rally in Alabama, Trump called out NFL players that chose to take a knee or sit during the anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now’?” Trump asked.

The following Sunday, a far greater number of NFL players stood up for those who protest inequity during the national anthem — and were joined, surprisingly, by many of the team owners Trump called out to.

While this was a good show of solidarity, it led some to wonder whether the NFL actually cares about black lives, or whether team owners were just looking to distance themselves from Trump’s problematic and divisive comments.

African-American males are only 6 percent of the United States population, but comprise nearly 70 percent of NFL players. It’s no wonder that issues around race are making their way into the NFL spotlight.

Black issues have never been a concern for NFL officials when it came to causes worthy of their monetary support. Instead, many NFL officials have donated millions to causes that were openly hostile to the Black Lives Matter movement — such as the Trump campaign.

CNN Money reports that “at least $ 7.75 million of the $ 106 million raised for Trump’s inaugural committee came from NFL owners and the league.” Several owners, many of whom supported Trump — and seven of whom had donated at least $ 1 million to him — released statements denouncing Trump’s comments.

Yet none have used their economic power to actually address the problem that brought the protest on in the first place.

Now would be a fine time to take the next step. While there are a number of ways the league can contribute to this movement, there’s one obvious way: supporting the Colin Kaepernick Foundation.

After Kaepernick began to raise awareness on the field, he put his money where his mouth is and created a foundation aimed at fighting oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism. Through this foundation, he made a pledge to “donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities.”

Imagine what could really transpire if NFL officials decided to make this same commitment.

We need to hold the NFL accountable, just as we do for other powerful American organizations. Taking a knee, banding arms, and releasing statements of support is easy compared to what the league can actually do to help fight racial injustice.

It’s time for the NFL to stand up for black lives and the rights of all Americans.


Climate Change is a Bigger Threat Than Any Military — Our Budget Should Reflect That


(Photo: The National Guard / Flickr)

With the prospect of needing to find billions for recovery from Hurricane Harvey, Congress is heading back to D.C. to vote on raising the debt ceiling. Yet what ought to be a set of straightforward tasks — avoid defaulting on the national debt and shutting down the federal government; pass an annual budget — instead is looking like an epic challenge.

A Congress that can’t agree with itself or with the president on just about anything is mostly agreed on one thing, though: The military needs billions in new money. While most Democrats would only be okay with this as long as the domestic budget also gets a boost, the Republican majority wants to hike the Pentagon budget while cutting just about everything else.

The widespread conviction that the Pentagon needs more money has to face a few facts. For one thing, it now has a bigger budget to work with, adjusting for inflation, than it did during the height of the Reagan buildup. We’re spending more than the next eight countries put together, most of which are our allies. And the Defense Department’s Inspector General reported last year that the Army’s financial statements were “materially misstated” in 2015 to the tune of $ 6.5 trillion.

No wonder it’s the only federal agency that still can’t pass an audit.

Yet Pentagon budget boosters are always on the lookout for new pretexts to make their case. The latest was the collision a couple of weeks ago between a U.S. guided missile destroyer and a tanker off the coast of Singapore. The bodies of the 10 sailors killed hadn’t even been pulled from the water before the talking heads began to opine that they died because the Navy is overstretched.

And what is the remedy? You guessed it. The venerable line that “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” has a corollary. It’s that under these conditions, the only visible solution is to spend more money on hammers. In the Navy’s case, they say, this means spending billions beefing up a 277-ship fleet to the nice round number of 350.

The goal of a 350-ship Navy was dealt a powerful counter-message when Harvey hit the shores of South Texas. While Congress and the administration were focused on paying to project more U.S. military power around the world, it was shortchanging the accounts needed to protect our own shores. The president’s proposed budget would make an 11 percent cut in FEMA’s budget, along with programs across numerous agencies to help people rebuild and make our infrastructure more resilient to withstand future storms.

No quantity of Navy ships could hold back Hurricane Harvey, of course. While the National Guard has a meaningful role to play in the recovery, a 350-ship Navy does not. The real contribution the Navy could make to protect our homeland from future Harveys is in helping to prevent them.

Preventing future attacks is, theoretically, the military’s bread and butter. And it has identified climate change as a major threat to our security. Climate change unquestionably made the storm surging over Texas and Louisiana worse — with warmer water increasing rainfall, the power of storms, and the surges pushed by our sea level itself, which has risen more than a foot since 1960.

The most important work the Navy could do to prevent future Harveys, therefore, is to do its part to slow climate change, in two ways.

First, it must drastically reduce its own greenhouse gas-producing emissions. The Navy actually has the best record among the service branches for its efforts and intentions to do so, but these have become distinct non-priorities in the Trump administration. Second, it needs to support a revised security budget that would apply some military money to help fund a clean energy transition for the U.S. economy as a whole.

Without such investments, we will be failing to address what the military itself calls the “urgent and growing” security threat of climate change. Meanwhile, as one defense consultant put it, “The president needs a better reason for a 350 ship Navy than his desire to command one.”


White Supremacy Carries More Than a Tiki Torch


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Our president has no trouble naming his enemies — CNN, Rosie O’Donnell, Nordstrom, immigrants, Muslims, the all-women version of Ghostbusters, etc. etc.

But when it comes to violent white supremacists, his passive streak is impossible to miss. When neo-Nazis and Klansmen incited a riot in Charlottesville, Trump famously blamed “many sides.”

Even after a belated statement finally condemning the racist perpetrators, Trump immediately backtracked. The very next day, he blamed the fictitious “alt-left” for the violence and insisted there were “many fine people” among the torch-bearing Confederates.

This was far too much even for many Republicans.

Senator Jeff Flake accused the president of “making excuses” for “acts of domestic terrorism.” John McCain insisted “there’s no moral equivalency between racists” and their opponents. Marco Rubio worried the president was resurrecting an “old evil,” while Texas Rep. Will Hurd called on Trump to apologize.

These Republicans (and many others) deserve credit for speaking out. But condemning Nazis is the lowest bar in the broader fight against white supremacy.

The fact is, the policy machinery of that supremacy — that is, the laws that systematically ensure negative outcomes for people of color — hums hot as ever. No hoods or flags required.

I wonder, for instance, whether these Republicans will also condemn their former Senate colleague Jeff Sessions. As Trump’s attorney general, Sessions is preparing an assault on affirmative action practices at universities as we speak.

Before that, Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to seek stiff mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, which is a major driver of the mass incarceration crisis that disproportionately locks up nonwhite Americans (“the new Jim Crow,” law professor Michelle Alexander calls it).

Sessions also looks likely to tear up federal reform plans for police departments with documented histories of brutality and racism.

What does his party have to say about that?

I wonder, too, whether they’ll call out Trump’s bogus panel on “voter fraud” led by Kris Kobach. Every study on the subject shows that “voter ID” laws and other restrictions do almost nothing to reduce in-person voter fraud. Makes sense: In-person fraud is virtually non-existent.

But these laws do have a proven effect in keeping African-Americans, Latinos, and poor people away from the polls. That’s exactly why they’re still cropping up in GOP-controlled states all over the country.

And what will these Republicans say about the states — all 27 of them — who’ve passed laws preventing cities from raising their minimum wages? That directly lowers wages in jobs dominated by women and people of color, who lag far behind white men in both income and wealth.

Finally, will they speak out against the several states now considering laws that would let drivers run over protesters who block roadways?

Those roadway-blocking tactics were popularized by Black Lives Matter activists and supporters of indigenous pipeline resisters, so it’s little wonder who these lawmakers imagine being run over. Especially after a neo-Nazi rammed his car into the anti-racists gathered in Charlottesville.

I’m glad the Republicans now speaking out say they loathe white supremacy. Good.

But white supremacy is more than racist name-calling or flag-waving. Most days, it’s a mundane system that pits the law against our non-white neighbors — and laws don’t need anyone to “feel” racist for them to work. They can look perfectly colorblind on paper, but they’re not.

Republicans — and all of us — need to be every bit as ready to name the machinery of white supremacy as we are to condemn its nastiest supporters. Otherwise we’re just making excuses, too.


On Fighting Inequality, Which Nations Do More than Pay Lip Service?


CEOs Now Make 300 Times More Than Their Workers. This City Is Putting a Stop to That.


(Photo: Flickr/ Democracy Chronicles)

With national policy likely to compound the income and wealth gap in the coming years, states and localities are fighting back.

Across the country, local jurisdictions aren’t waiting for federal action or corporate governance reforms to close the wage gap. In December, for example, the city of Portland, Oregon, passed an ordinance to raise the business tax on companies with CEOs who earn more than 100 times the median pay of their workers. Portland officials said the ordinance is the first of its kind in the country. And now, more cities and states are poised to follow suit.

“The huge divide in income and wealth has real-world implications,” Steve Novick wrote last October in Novick sponsored the ordinance when he was on the Portland City Council. “Too many Americans cannot get a leg up,” he wrote. “Income inequality undermines the American dream.”

Portland city government projects the tax will raise $ 2.5 million to $ 3.5 million a year, which city officials have said will likely help pay for the city’s homeless programs.

Inspired by the living wage movement, Portland’s ordinance comes on the heels of decades of grassroots activism around the issue of wage inequality.

Starting in the 1990s, the failure of Congress to adequately raise the federal minimum wage gave rise to a prairie-fire movement of local activists pressing for local and state living wage ordinances. Living wage ordinances typically cover a segment of workers, such as employees of government contractors, while minimum wage laws cover all workers. By 2010, over 120 jurisdictions had passed local living wage laws, and at present, 41 jurisdictions have passed minimum wage laws.

“I expect this pay gap reform movement to spread like wildfire, just as the living wage movement did,” said Sarah Anderson from the Institute for Policy Studies. “I’ve gotten inquiries from over two dozen states and cities about how to establish a pay gap ordinance.”

Anderson lobbied the Portland City Council in support of the policy and testified at a public hearing. She has since compiled resources for communities interested in instituting a CEO-worker pay gap penalty.

Read the full article on YES! Magazine’s website. 


Under Trump, the U.S. May Now Be Killing More Civilians Than Russia


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In a desolated patch of Mosul, Iraq, people are still digging through the rubble. Rescuers wear masks to cover the stench, while anxious family members grow desperate about missing loved ones.

The full story of what happened in the al-Jidideh neighborhood isn’t yet clear, but the toll is unmistakable. A New York Times journalist reported stumbling across charred human limbs, still covered in clothing, while a man stood nearby holding a sign with 27 names — extended family members either missing or dead.

All told, 200 or more civilians may be dead there following a U.S. airstrike on the densely populated neighborhood. The military has acknowledged the strike, but says it’s still investigating the deaths. If the allegations are true, this was by far our deadliest attack on innocents in decades.

The carnage comes amid a push by the U.S. and its Iraqi allies to reclaim Mosul, Iraq’s second most populous city, from the Islamic State (or ISIS).

That’s making life terrifying for the city’s residents, who’ve endured years of depredations from ISIS only to fall under U.S. bombs — and to face possible human rights abuses from Iraqi soldiers they don’t trust. “Now it feels like the coalition is killing more people than ISIS,” one resident told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper.

Unfortunately, that may not be so far from the truth. AirWars, which tracks civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, counted over 1,300 reports of civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in March alone. That’s about triple the count from February.

In fact, AirWars estimates, more U.S. coalition strikes are now causing civilian casualties than strikes by Russia, which was loudly (and appropriately) accused of war crimes for its bombing of Aleppo, Syria last year.

Is this the simple result of the fight heating up in Mosul? Not quite.

In the same month, at least 30 civilians were reported killed by a U.S. airstrike outside Raqqa, Syria — where the real battle with ISIS hasn’t even begun yet — and up to 50 more may have died when the U.S. bombed a mosque in Aleppo.

Instead, some observers suspect the Trump administration is relaxing Obama-era rules designed to limit civilian casualties in war zones. They deny this, but the Times reports that field commanders appear to be exercising more latitude to launch strikes in civilian-heavy areas than before.

During the campaign, Trump himself famously promised to “bomb the s—” out of ISIS. That sounds extreme, and it is.

But it’s only a few steps beyond the Obama administration’s approach of gradually expanding our air wars outside the public eye. Trump’s just taking it to another level by putting virtually all key foreign policy decisions in military hands, while gutting resources for diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

The human costs of this will be enormous. The political costs will be, too.

The U.S. has been “bombing the s—” out of Iraq for decades now, which has consistently created more terrorists than it’s killed. Extremists are flourishing in Iraq. The same can’t be said for the civilians now burying their dead in Mosul.

Of course, ISIS is guilty of its own innumerable atrocities. But the war-torn sectarian politics that gave rise to the group are a direct result of this military-first foreign policy. There’s simply no reason to believe that reducing Iraq’s cities to rubble will give way to less extremism in their ashes.

Iraqis will still have to wrest their country back from ISIS. But if it’s ever going to get back on its feet, what the country truly needs is a political solution. That’s going to require a surge of aid, diplomacy, and honest brokering — all of which are in short supply now.

Peter Certo is the editorial manager at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Immigrants Pay More Than Their Fair Share


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It’s hip these days to pick on immigrants. From Pennsylvania Avenue to Phoenix, we’ve seen public displays of hostility toward undocumented workers over and over.

Hostile politicians especially like to say that migrants are a drain on society. During Donald Trump’s recent speech to Congress, for instance, the president implied that immigrants cost “America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.”

But among their many other contributions to American society, it turns out that undocumented immigrants pay an enormous amount of taxes — in fact, $ 11.7 billion in state and local taxes alone.

That’s according to a just-released study from the non-partisan Institute on Taxes and Economic Policy. That figure includes $ 7 billion in sales and excise taxes, $ 3.6 billion in property taxes, and $ 1.1 billion in income taxes.

This total is spread among states and municipalities ranging in scale. The largest is California, where an estimated 3 million immigrants contribute more than $ 3 billion in tax revenue. For comparison, that pretty well covers what the state spends on special education for all Californians.

All told, undocumented workers pay about 8 percent of their income in state and local taxes. Compare that to the wealthiest 1 percent, who pay just 5.4 percent.

Read the full article on InsideSources.

Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Why a “Trumpxit” May Be Harder Than it Looks

Here at Emergency Travel Services, we believe that it’s never too early to plan your vacation.

Or your emigration.

Based on the latest polls, most of you are confident that Donald Trump won’t be elected president in November. If the election were held today, according to statistician Nate Silver, Trump would have about a 12 percent chance of winning. His odds improve to about 13 percent for November (according to the polls) and a mere 23 percent if you factor in other data on the economy and so on. Trump, who insists on being top dog in everything, is now barking loudly as the underdog.

But that could change. Hillary Clinton’s campaign could implode. An October surprise—a huge info-leak, a major terrorist attack—could mean a 5 to 10 percent swing in popular sentiment.

Bottom line: don’t plan your life around public opinion polls.

Time is running out. Some of our best deals at Emergency Travel Services have already been taken. I know that many of you liberal types have a soft spot for New Zealand: tolerant culture, lots of nice hiking paths, language mostly intelligible to Americans. But our Notorious RBG package is already sold out. Following the lead of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, practically half the populations of the Bay Area, Portland, Oregon, and Burlington, Vermont have planned their escape route to down under.

Don’t wait until November 9. Last minute vacationers often make terrible mistakes. Desperate to get out of town and seduced by misleading ad campaigns, they end up at the Club Med on the Aral Sea or on a summer beach vacation in Kuwait. Our travel agency never forgets to account for global warming. The same goes for political climate change.

Always one step ahead, our risk analysts have prepared a guide to the planet’s most welcoming and least welcoming destinations, that is, if your primary objective is to run screaming in the other direction from the specter of President Trump. We’ve divided our guide into four sections: Trump Plus, Trump-Like, Trump Light, and Trump-Free.

Pay close attention. You don’t want to jump out of the American frying pan and into some foreign fire. Let Emergency Travel Services ensure that your landing is a safe one.

Trump Plus

This is probably not news to anyone, but Pyongyang and Damascus are not good places to establish a new life abroad. Donald Trump is perhaps the greatest threat to democracy that the United States has witnessed in the last 75 years. But he’s not Kim Jong Eun or Bashar al-Assad. Of course, give Trump an army and a vast prison system and who knows? Bashar was once just a white-collar professional with a pretty wife. Jong Eun was once just a privileged child who got a big boost from his father. There but for the grace of democratic institutions goes Donald.

Also in the category of one-man dystopias are Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Omar al-Bashir’s Sudan, Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus, Islam Karimov’s Uzbekistan, and Butch Otter’s Idaho (in case you were considering internal exile in a survivalist bunker).

We recommend that you don’t go to war zones (much of the Middle East), pandemic zones (check the CDC site), and island nations that are about to disappear under the ocean. Cancun during spring break is also a no-no.

In short, there are places in the world that are worse than living under Donald Trump. Sure, if you’re a nuclear physicist or a trainer of commando units, Pyongyang and Damascus might welcome you with open arms. We run an exfiltration service—think Argo—if things go horribly wrong. But that will cost you big time. Bottom line: maximize your flexibility and minimize your cost and risk.


It’s easy to avoid dictatorships. But if you are considering a destination based solely on its designation as a democracy, think again. Plenty of other countries around the world have gone to the polls to install their own little Trumps.

Consider, for instance, the Philippines. The country has suffered under some appalling leadership in the past. Ferdinand Marcos steered the country into pauperdom; Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was under hospital arrest for four years on corruption charges. But the recently elected Rodrigo Duterte is already demonstrating that he can out-Trump the competition. He called the U.S. ambassador a “gay son of a bitch” and refused to apologize. He made a rape joke too offensive to be repeated here. He even insulted the Pope. In terms of specific policies, he pledged to dump the corpses of 100,000 gangsters into Manila Bay—indeed, extrajudicial killings are already on the rise—and suspend the country’s legislature if it doesn’t do what he says. At the same time, he wants to shake up the country’s elite, negotiate with armed rebels, and make a deal with Beijing over the disputed territory in the South China Sea. Bottom line: Duterte is an offensive and unpredictable loudmouth whose war on crime might be balanced by peace initiatives elsewhere, but we don’t recommend that you relocate to Manila.

Russia could legitimately claim that its leader Vladimir Putin championed “illiberal democracy” long before the White House appeared on Trump’s real estate wish list. And Trump seems to defer to Putin—on the threat of terrorism and the proper means to address it, the annexation of Crimea and the questionable utility of NATO, and the rise of Euroskepticism and the weakening of the European Union. Trump wants to bring back torture to deal with America’s enemies; Putin gets rid of opposition in less medieval but equally distasteful ways. After Boris Yeltsin turned Russia into a post-Soviet backwater, Putin claims that he has made the country great again, measured by military spending, cross-border meddling, and nationalist rhetoric. By ruling like an oligarch and pouring money into the Pentagon, Trump promises to duplicate that feat. Bottom line: unless you plan to keep your mouth shut about human rights, corruption, and geopolitics, don’t move to Moscow.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan once won accolades as a reformer for breaking the power of the military, reaching out to the Kurdish community, and bringing Turkey closer in line with European human rights standards. But after throwing dozens of journalists in jail and reigniting a war against the Kurds, Erdogan has swung the other way. His recent efforts to pass a new constitution, which would put even more power into his hands, has a definite Trumpian feel. The recently attempted military coup gave Erdogan a fresh excuse for sweeping potential opponents from the system, and it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine such a scenario in Trump’s America. Bottom line: Turkey’s a lovely place, but this is not the time to establish residence in Istanbul.

Japan has long been a popular destination for Americans looking for safe, economically advanced locales. But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been steadily remilitarizing the country by undermining the “peace constitution.” Recently he installed a war-crimes denier as his defense minister. Unlike Trump, Abe is not given to outrageous statements. Nor has he proposed any outlandish walls (Japan’s an island, after all). But he’s no fan of immigrants, and he desperately wants to put Japan first (evoking some of the same noxious World War II-era slogans as Trump’s America First rhetoric). Bottom line: we’re not predicting another Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but who wants to live in a country that’s been ruled by the same party practically for the last 70 years?

Then there’s a man, a plan, a canal: Ortega. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega has partnered with a shadowy Chinese tycoon to build a huge canal that will ruin the environment, undermine the livelihoods of farmers, and maybe never turn a profit – if it gets built at all. The former comandante of the Sandinistas, Ortega has been politically reborn as an anti-abortion, pro-business autocrat who has manipulated the electoral rules to run for a third term as president this year. He recently chose his wife as his vice presidential candidate. Like Trump, he’ll do practically anything to win. Unlike Trump, he was a Marxist revolutionary who once deposed a tyrant. Bottom line: the 70-year-old Ortega is expected to win another four-year term in November by a wide margin, so unless you can stomach Trump in the guise of a putative leftist, stay away from Managua.

The European Union might seem a safe emigration bet, if you’re coming by plane from America and not a boat from North Africa. However, some EU countries have anticipated Trump by electing their own offensive blowhards. In the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman has argued that Muslim integration in Europe is “practically impossible,” ignoring the experience of millions of immigrants, not to mention Bulgarian Turks, Bosniaks, and Albanians. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pledged to remodel his country along the lines of Russia’s “illiberal democracy.” In Poland, the ruling Law and Justice Party has interfered with press freedom, made controversial statements against homosexuality, and squared off against the EU. Bottom line: beware this “new Europe” of intolerance, nationalism, and Euroskepticism.

The spread of illiberal democracy has reached epidemic proportions. There’s simply not enough room in this report to cover them all: Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Malaysia’s Najib Razak, and so on. Trump is not as unique as he’d like to believe.

Trump Light

The last thing you want to do is move to a country that seems safe only for the citizens to turn around and suddenly install their own Trump, forcing you to pick up and move again. We call these at-risk countries Trump Light.

Take France, for example. Perhaps you’re already planning a four-year term in Provence. The country has great food, civilized conversation, and a humane vacation policy. But it also has Marine Le Pen. The right-wing extremist is now twice as popular as current president Francois Hollande and is leading in the polls against the other presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy. If she becomes president next year, expect her to try to join the UK in leaving the EU and implement any number of Trump-like laws against Muslims and immigrants. Bottom line: a lot of French might be joining you next year in whatever safe haven we’ve found for you.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. It is also a tolerant democracy under the leadership of Joko Widodo. But two variants of extremism lie in wait. The Great Indonesia Movement Party and its frontman Prabowo Subianto want to turn back the clock to the days of Sukarno, cultivating a potent mixture of hypernationalism and militarism. Subianto came in second in the presidential elections in 2014, and his party commands the third largest bloc of seats in the legislature. Meanwhile, Islamic extremism in the form of Hizb ut-Tahrir is on the rise, and terrorists have launched a series of attacks to gain headlines and followers. Bottom line: you might want to play it safe and stay away so as not to be caught in the extremist crossfire.

Over one-third of the world lives in India and China, so why not you too? Both countries appear relatively stable at the moment. But before you throw in your lot with the global plurality, consider the following. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the head of the Hindu nationalist party, BJP, which has precipitated communal violence in the past. Modi has been rather circumspect as leader, but that could change if radicals in and around the party get the upper hand. In China, meanwhile, Xi Jinping is the anti-Trump: a careful bureaucrat comfortable with navigating within the system. But Xi is not above using nationalism—against “separatists,” against Japanese militarists, against claimants to territory in the South China Sea—to sustain support in the Party at a time of cooling economic growth. Bottom line: keep your eye on the headlines before heading to Beijing or Mumbai.

Trump Free

If you’ve been busy crossing off countries on the map as you’ve been reading along, you’ll realize that there’s not a lot of free space left at this point. Much of the globe is downright dangerous in its Trump-like proclivities. If these global Trumps have not already taken power, as in the Philippines or Poland, they are gathering strength, as in France and Indonesia. We are experiencing the formation of a Trump International.

That leaves you with a couple of choices. You could:

  • Run across the border and throw yourself on the mercy of Justin Trudeau – until the Canadians build their own wall and make Donald Trump pay for it;
  • If you miss the boat on Canada, you could find a quiet, boring, and relatively obscure place to live like Andorra, Tuvalu, or Belize;
  • Volunteer to take ice floe measurements in Antarctica for the next four years;
  • Get on a cruise ship and stay on it, circling the globe until people come to their senses or the world blows up, whichever comes first.

At Emergency Travel Services, we can help you with any of these options. Don’t be caught with your pants down and your passport expired on November 9. Even if Trump loses this time around, his followers aren’t going anywhere. They’ll get behind an equally offensive but more politically viable candidate in 2020.

Bottom line: in these desperate times, it’s not just the Pentagon that needs an exit strategy.

The post Why a “Trumpxit” May Be Harder Than it Looks appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer directs Foreign Policy In Focus, a project at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Poorer Than Their Parents


(Photo: Shutterstock)

The promise of market economics is supposed to be that as an economy grows, the paychecks of wage earners grow with it. But according to a new study, this is no longer the case.

Who’s hit hardest by the new unequal reality? Young people.

During the last economic expansion, the period dating from 1993 to 2005, a full 98 percent of workers saw their wages rise in the 25 major advanced economies around the world. Granted, the rise wasn’t evenly distributed, but the proverbial rising tide did lift most boats, at least slightly.

But from 2005 to 2014, the subsequent period encapsulating the Great Recession and so-called recovery, just a third of wage earners saw their incomes rise. The vast majority of earners – around 65 to 70 percent – saw their paychecks decline or stagnate. In the United States, the proportion with stagnant wages was a full 81 percent.

The new report, entitled “Poorer Than Their Parents? Flat Or Falling Incomes In Advanced Economies,” comes from the McKinsey Global Institute. As the title suggests, the study examined the prospects for over 800 million workers in the 25 wealthiest countries and found that the rising generation is at serious risk of ending up poorer than their parents.

The post Poorer Than Their Parents appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies.