Starbucks arrests highlights disparity of racial experiences

A viral video shows two African American men being arrested in a Starbucks after a manager claims they trespassed by not buying anything and sitting in the store. Kwame Jackson, an entrepreneur and businessman, called it evidence of a “humanity gap.”

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One Officer, Scores of Tickets and a Familiar Racial Disparity

It was just before 9 a.m. one day last July, and Noemi Martinez was on her way from one job interview to the next, running to catch a bus on Atlantic Boulevard in Jacksonville, Fla. Sprinklers from a nearby nursery were showering water onto the broken sidewalk in front of her, so Martinez walked out into the shoulder of Lee Road and pressed on.

Things were fairly urgent for Martinez, 52. An eviction notice had been pasted on her apartment door on Jacksonville’s West Side. A job was vital, and she’d just interviewed for work as a bus driver. Now, she was off to interview for a position as a customer service representative at Florida Blue, the health insurance giant.

Just then, Officer C.J. Brown of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cruised by on his motorcycle. Martinez’s luck could hardly have been worse.

Brown wrote more pedestrian tickets than any other member of the sheriff’s force over the last five years. And so at 8:58 a.m. on July 19, 2017, he issued a $62.50 citation to Martinez: “Pedestrian failed to use sidewalk. Walking in roadway where sidewalks provided.”

“I’ve never been stopped for anything and you’re going to stop me for walking, when I was doing everything right,” Martinez recalled saying to Brown. “He stopped me as if I was a criminal.”

ProPublica and the Times-Union examined more than 2,200 pedestrian tickets issued to people in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017, and found that 55 percent of them were issued to blacks despite the fact that the city’s population is just 29 percent African American. The sheriff’s office says the tickets are issued in an effort to limit pedestrian fatalities and combat crime.

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Outrageous Wealth Disparity in America

Outrageous Wealth Disparity in America

by Stephen Lendman ( – Home – Stephen Lendman)

According to an Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)  report titled “Billionaire Bonanza 2017,” America’s 400 richest individuals have more total wealth than the nation’s bottom 64%.

The three richest billionaires are wealthier than the bottom 50%. The bottom 1% of Americans have a negative net worth of $196 billion. The top 1% has a combined net worth of $33.4 trillion.

Shocking stuff! It happened by design, not accident – neoliberal harshness for most Americans, near-zero interest rates and trillions of dollars of money printing madness by the Wall Street owned and controlled Fed, near-free money, making super-rich Americans far richer.

Transferring wealth from most Americans to wealthy elites has been going on for years, a deliberate scheme to concentrate it in the hands of the nation’s privileged class at the expense of most others.

Below are the highlights of the IPS report:

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett own more wealth than 63 million US household – 160 million people.

America’s wealthiest billionaires are as rich as 70 million US households – 178 million people.

Billionaires comprising Forbes’ 400 have more wealth than 64% of the US population – 204 million people.

Median US family net worth is $80,000, excluding automobiles owned.

Forbes 400 members are wealthier than 33 million US families with the above net worth.

One-fifth of US households have zero or negative net worth. Over 30% of Black households and 27% of Latino ones have no wealth or they’re underwater. 

Since the Forbes 400 list was published on October 17, Bezos increased his wealth by $7 billion – in a few weeks.

According to IPS, figures in its report “underestimate our current levels of wealth concentration. The growing use of offshore tax havens and legal trusts has made the concealing of assets more widespread than ever before.”

Rich elites worldwide shelter their wealth offshore, paying minimal or no taxes on it. Lawyers and accountants enable them to avoid paying their fair share of taxes on wealth maintained at home. 

Many large US corporations pay nothing. On average, they pay around 14% of their income in federal taxes. The current corporate rate is 35%.

From 2008 – 2015, over half of S&P 500 companies paid no federal income taxes, despite combined profits of over $3.8 trillion, according to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy – calling the 35% corporate rate a “myth.”

The GOP tax plan will increase inequality further, a bonanza for super-rich Americans, crumbs for most others, and for some a tax increase.

According to IPS researchers Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, “(o)ver recent decades, an incredibly disproportionate share of America’s income and wealth gains has flowed to the top of our economic spectrum.” 

“At the tip of that top sit the nation’s richest 400 individuals, a group that Forbes magazine has been tracking annually since 1982.”

“Americans at the other end of our economic spectrum, meanwhile, watch their wages stagnate and savings dwindle.”

The net worth of super-rich Americans continues growing. Most others struggle to get by on low wages, poor or no benefits, along with millions of students entrapped by over $1.3 trillion in debts incurred to pay tuition and other school expenses.

America’s out-of-control wealth disparity is a national disgrace. Bipartisan policies make things worse, not better.

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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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Billionaire investor warns: U.S. "wealth disparity" will end in "revolution, taxes, or war"


Having previously warned of the “disastrous market mania,” and told Janet Yellen to “be terrified” in April, legendary trader Paul Tudor Jones has a new message for CEOs, urging them to stop embracing the profit-above-all-else ethic creating massive wealth-inequality, or face the “tearing down of our civilization via war, revolution, or taxes.”

“One of the key things that always ends up tearing down great civilizations and countries is wealth disparity. It’s not sustainable,” explained the billionaire hedge fund manager at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston, telling corporate chiefs that they have gone too far in embracing economist Milton Friedman’s profit-above-all-else ethic and they need to change how they do business.

Corporations have paid too much attention to prioritizing shareholders, said Jones, who’s backing a nonprofit called JUST Capital that will rank companies on how well they treat their employees, consumers, communities and investors.

Bloomberg reports that Jones said that even Friedman would rethink his ideas if he could see how divided the U.S. has become in terms of wealth, and worries about the outcome…

“The way wealth disparity has been historically dealt with is either wars, revolution or taxes. My guess is in the future it’ll be one of those three in this country.”

At the time of Friedman’s 1970 article, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” the maximum federal individual tax rate was 70 percent, versus about 40 percent today. The wealth gap was one-fifth of what it is today, said Jones.

Friedman believed corporate executives should make as much money as possible while “conforming to the basic rules of the society.”

The economist also thought that if people want to do good in society they should do so through personal charity rather than through the companies they manage, direct, or invest in.

“I would argue today if he came back and saw where we are as a country, I don’t think he would say that,” said Jones, 63. “Shareholders have benefited at the expense of labor and that has had a huge social impact on this country.”

Jones ranked his own company using the JUST criteria and discovered that he underpaid the people hired to landscape the property surrounding his Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm. They were paid $11 an per hour.

“We looked through our contractual workers and upped their pay so they could get to a living wage,” said Jones, whose net worth is estimated at $3.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Notably, Jones laid off 15 percent of his employees last year, a rare move for a man who’s known for his loyalty towards staff, and as Bloomberg reports, after living in Connecticut for decades, Jones moved to Florida last year, which has no income tax.

* * *

This is not the first time that Tudor Jones has discussed so-called “Just Capital.” In 2015 he delivered a TED Talk on the topic…

Can capital be just? As a firm believer in capitalism and the free market, Paul Tudor Jones II believes that it can be. Tudor is the founder of the Tudor Investment Corporation and the Tudor Group, which trade in the fixed-income, equity, currency and commodity markets. He thinks it is time to expand the “narrow definitions of capitalism” that threaten the underpinnings of our society and develop a new model for corporate profit that includes justness and responsibility.

It’s a good time for companies: in the US, corporate revenues are at their highest point in 40 years. The problem, Tudor points out, is that as profit margins grow, so does income inequality. And income inequality is closely linked to lower life expectancy, literacy and math proficiency, infant mortality, homicides, imprisonment, teenage births, trust among ourselves, obesity, and, finally, social mobility. In these measures, the US is off the charts.


“This gap between the 1 percent and the rest of America, and between the US and the rest of the world, cannot and will not persist,” says the investor.

“Historically, these kinds of gaps get closed in one of three ways: by revolution, higher taxes or wars. None are on my bucket list.”

Tudor proposes a fourth way: just corporate behavior. He formed Just Capital, a not-for-profit that aims to increase justness in companies. It all starts with defining “justness” – to do this, he is asking the public for input. As it stands, there is no universal standard monitoring company behavior. Tudor and his team will conduct annual national surveys in the US, polling individuals on their top priorities, be it job creation, inventing healthy products or being eco-friendly. Just Capital will release these results annually – keep an eye out for the first survey results this September.

Ultimately, Tudor hopes the free market will take hold and reward the companies that are the most just. “Capitalism has driven just about every great innovation that has made our world a more prosperous, comfortable and inspiring place to live. But capitalism has to be based on justice and morality…and never more so than today with economic divisions large and growing.”

This is not an argument against progress, Tudor emphasizes. “I want that electric car, or the jet packs that we all thought we’d have by now.” But he’s hoping that increased wealth will bring with it a stronger sense of corporate responsibility. “When we begin to put justness on par with profits, we get the most valuable thing in the world. We get back our humanity.”

* * *

And here is his full TED Talk on the topic..

* * *

Finally as a reminder, in April, Tudor Jones, who runs the $10 billion Tudor Investment hedge fund, said Yellen should be very afraid, warning that years of low interest rates have bloated stock valuations to a level not seen since 2000, right before the Nasdaq tumbled 75 percent over two-plus years.

That measure – the value of the S&P relative to the size of the economy – should be “terrifying” to a central banker, Jones said earlier this month at a closed-door Goldman Sachs Asset Management conference, according to people who heard him.


While the billionaire didn’t say when a market turn might come, or what the magnitude of the fall might be, he did pinpoint a likely culprit.

Just as portfolio insurance caused the 1987 rout, he says, the new danger zone is the half-trillion dollars in risk parity funds. These funds aim to systematically spread risk equally across different asset classes by putting more money in lower volatility securities and less in those whose prices move more dramatically. Because risk-parity funds have been scooping up equities of late as volatility hit historic lows, some market participants, Jones included, believe they’ll be forced to dump them quickly in a stock tumble, exacerbating any decline.

“Risk parity,” Jones told the Goldman audience, “will be the hammer on the downside.”

Indeed, with all that low-vol leveraged, it wouldn’t be the first time.


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