Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality

New Press, The
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The issue of inequality has irrefutably returned to the fore, riding on the anger against Wall Street following the 2008 financial crisis and the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the super–rich. The Occupy movement made the plight of the 99 percent an indelible part of the public consciousness, and concerns about inequality were a decisive factor in the 2012 presidential elections.

How bad is it? According to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Cay Johnston, most Americans, in inflation–adjusted terms, are now back to the average income of 1966. Shockingly, from 2009 to 2011, the top 1 percent got 121 percent of the income gains while the bottom 99 percent saw their income fall. Yet in this most unequal of developed nations, every aspect of inequality remains hotly contested and poorly understood.

Divided collects the writings of leading scholars, activists, and journalists to provide an illuminating, multifaceted look at inequality in America, exploring its devastating implications in areas as diverse as education, justice, health care, social mobility, and political representation. Provocative and eminently readable, here is an essential resource for anyone who cares about the future of America—and compelling evidence that inequality can be ignored only at the nation’s peril.
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About the author

David Cay Johnston is an investigative journalist and the winner of a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for uncovering loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code. He is the president of Investigative Reporters & Editors and the author of the bestselling trilogy Perfectly Legal, Free Lunch, and The Fine Print. He lives in Rochester, New York.
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Additional Information

Publisher
New Press, The
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Published on
Apr 1, 2014
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781595589446
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Policy
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare
Social Science / Poverty & Homelessness
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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David Cay Johnston
Now updated with a new prologue!

 

Since the mid-1970s, there has been a dramatic shift in America's socioeconomic system, one that has gone virtually unnoticed by the general public. Tax policies and their enforcement have become a disaster, and thanks to discreet lobbying by a segment of the top 1 percent, Washington is reluctant or unable to fix them. The corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the gift tax have been largely ignored by the media. But the cumulative results are remarkable: today someone who earns a yearly salary of $60,000 pays a larger percentage of his income in taxes than the four hundred richest Americans.

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston exposes exactly how the middle class is being squeezed to create a widening wealth gap that threatens the stability of the country. By relating the compelling tales of real people across all areas of society, he reveals the truth behind:



   • 

"Middle class" tax cuts and exactly whom they benefit.


   • 

How workers are being cheated out of their retirement plans while disgraced CEOs walk away with millions.


   • 

How some corporations avoid paying any federal income tax.


   • 

How a law meant to prevent cheating by the top 2 percent of Americans no longer affects most of them, but has morphed into a stealth tax on single mothers making just $28,000.


   • 

Why the working poor are seven times more likely to be audited by the IRS than everyone else.


   • 

How the IRS became so weak that even when it was handed complete banking records detailing massive cheating by 1,600 people, it prosecuted only 4 percent of them.


Johnston has been breaking pieces of this story on the front page of The New York Times for seven years. With Perfectly Legal, he puts the whole shocking narrative together in a way that will stir up media attention and make readers angry about the state of our country.




From the Trade Paperback edition.
David Cay Johnston
“No other modern country gives corporations the unfettered power found in America to gouge cus­tomers, shortchange workers, and erect barriers to fair play. A big reason is that so little of the news . . . addresses the private, government-approved mechanisms by which price gouging is employed to redistribute income upward.”

You are being systematically exploited by powerful corporations every day. These companies squeeze their trusting customers for every last cent, risk their retirement funds, and endanger their lives. And they do it all legally. How? It’s all in the fine print.

David Cay Johnston, the bestselling author of Per­fectly Legal and Free Lunch, is famous for exposing the perfidies of our biggest institutions. Now he turns his attention to the ways huge corporations hide sneaky stipulations in just about every contract, often with government permission.

Johnston has been known to whip out a utility bill and explain line by line what all that mumbo jumbo actually means (and it doesn’t mean anything good, unless you happen to be the utility company). Within all that jargon, disclosed in accordance with all legal requirements, lie the tools these companies use to rob you blind. Even worse is what’s missing—all the contractually binding clauses that companies hide elsewhere yet still enforce and abuse. Consider, for example, how:

An insurance company repeatedly delayed paying for a paralyzed man’s vital care despite court orders to pay up. Laws in nineteen states let companies like Goldman Sachs, General Electric, and Procter & Gamble pocket the state income taxes withheld from their workers’ paychecks for up to twenty-five years. A little-known government rule gives safety waiv­ers to deadly industrial facilities secretly located underneath schools and playgrounds. The “FCC Charge” on your phone bill, which appears to be a government fee, actually goes straight to the phone company.

Johnston shares solutions you can use to fight back against the hundreds of obscure fees and taxes that line the pockets of big corporations, and to help end these devious practices once and for all.

David Cay Johnston
The bestselling author of Perfectly Legal returns with a powerful new exposé

How does a strong and growing economy lend itself to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and economic fear for a vast number of Americans? Free Lunch provides answers to this great economic mystery of our time, revealing how today's government policies and spending reach deep into the wallets of the many for the benefit of the wealthy few.

Johnston cuts through the official version of events and shows how, under the guise of deregulation, a whole new set of regulations quietly went into effect-- regulations that thwart competition, depress wages, and reward misconduct. From how George W. Bush got rich off a tax increase to a $100 million taxpayer gift to Warren Buffett, Johnston puts a face on all of the dirty little tricks that business and government pull. A lot of people appear to be getting free lunches, but of course there's no such thing as a free lunch, and someone (you, the taxpayer) is picking up the bill.

Johnston's many revelations include:
 How we ended up with the most expensive yet inefficient health-care system in the world
 How homeowners title insurance became a costly, deceitful, yet almost invisible oligopoly
 How our government gives hidden subsidies for posh golf courses
 How Paris Hilton's grandfather schemed to retake the family fortune from a charity for poor children
 How the Yankees and Mets owners will collect more than $1.3 billion in public funds

In these instances and many more, Free Lunch shows how the lobbyists and lawyers representing the most powerful 0.1 percent of Americans manipulated our government at the expense of the other 99.9 percent.

With his extraordinary reporting, vivid stories, and sharp analysis, Johnston reveals the forces that shape our everyday economic lives and shows us how we can finally make things better.


From the Hardcover edition.
David Cay Johnston
“One of America’s most important journalists” (The Washington Monthly), winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Making of Donald Trump, David Cay Johnston examines the Trump Administration’s policies in its first one hundred days, showing how its actions affect our jobs, finances, safety, and much more.

No working journalist knows Donald Trump better than David Cay Johnston, who first met the forty-fifth president in 1988 and has tracked him ever since. Johnston chronicled much of Trump’s conduct in two books: Temples of Chance and the bestselling The Making of Donald Trump. He was also an uncredited source of documents and insight for major campaign reports by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and network television. When Trump announced his campaign in June 2015, Johnston was the first national journalist to write about a potential Trump presidency.

Now Johnston examines the first one hundred days of Donald Trump’s presidency, including a close look at what the mainstream press stopped covering years ago: the workings of the federal government agencies and how that touches the lives of all Americans, from our wallets to our health care to our safety. He also provides unique insight about how our lives are affected by many actions that the new administration quietly approves without drawing the attention of the Washington press corps.

Featuring Johnston’s renowned skill in bringing government policy to life, this crucial book clearly explains how our daily lives will be affected by the actions of the Trump Administration. This is essential reading for all Americans.
J. D. Vance
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

David Cay Johnston
The bestselling author of Perfectly Legal returns with a powerful new exposé

How does a strong and growing economy lend itself to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and economic fear for a vast number of Americans? Free Lunch provides answers to this great economic mystery of our time, revealing how today's government policies and spending reach deep into the wallets of the many for the benefit of the wealthy few.

Johnston cuts through the official version of events and shows how, under the guise of deregulation, a whole new set of regulations quietly went into effect-- regulations that thwart competition, depress wages, and reward misconduct. From how George W. Bush got rich off a tax increase to a $100 million taxpayer gift to Warren Buffett, Johnston puts a face on all of the dirty little tricks that business and government pull. A lot of people appear to be getting free lunches, but of course there's no such thing as a free lunch, and someone (you, the taxpayer) is picking up the bill.

Johnston's many revelations include:
 How we ended up with the most expensive yet inefficient health-care system in the world
 How homeowners title insurance became a costly, deceitful, yet almost invisible oligopoly
 How our government gives hidden subsidies for posh golf courses
 How Paris Hilton's grandfather schemed to retake the family fortune from a charity for poor children
 How the Yankees and Mets owners will collect more than $1.3 billion in public funds

In these instances and many more, Free Lunch shows how the lobbyists and lawyers representing the most powerful 0.1 percent of Americans manipulated our government at the expense of the other 99.9 percent.

With his extraordinary reporting, vivid stories, and sharp analysis, Johnston reveals the forces that shape our everyday economic lives and shows us how we can finally make things better.


From the Hardcover edition.
David Cay Johnston
Now updated with a new prologue!

 

Since the mid-1970s, there has been a dramatic shift in America's socioeconomic system, one that has gone virtually unnoticed by the general public. Tax policies and their enforcement have become a disaster, and thanks to discreet lobbying by a segment of the top 1 percent, Washington is reluctant or unable to fix them. The corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the gift tax have been largely ignored by the media. But the cumulative results are remarkable: today someone who earns a yearly salary of $60,000 pays a larger percentage of his income in taxes than the four hundred richest Americans.

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston exposes exactly how the middle class is being squeezed to create a widening wealth gap that threatens the stability of the country. By relating the compelling tales of real people across all areas of society, he reveals the truth behind:



   • 

"Middle class" tax cuts and exactly whom they benefit.


   • 

How workers are being cheated out of their retirement plans while disgraced CEOs walk away with millions.


   • 

How some corporations avoid paying any federal income tax.


   • 

How a law meant to prevent cheating by the top 2 percent of Americans no longer affects most of them, but has morphed into a stealth tax on single mothers making just $28,000.


   • 

Why the working poor are seven times more likely to be audited by the IRS than everyone else.


   • 

How the IRS became so weak that even when it was handed complete banking records detailing massive cheating by 1,600 people, it prosecuted only 4 percent of them.


Johnston has been breaking pieces of this story on the front page of The New York Times for seven years. With Perfectly Legal, he puts the whole shocking narrative together in a way that will stir up media attention and make readers angry about the state of our country.




From the Trade Paperback edition.
David Cay Johnston
“One of America’s most important journalists” (The Washington Monthly), winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Making of Donald Trump, David Cay Johnston examines the Trump Administration’s policies in its first one hundred days, showing how its actions affect our jobs, finances, safety, and much more.

No working journalist knows Donald Trump better than David Cay Johnston, who first met the forty-fifth president in 1988 and has tracked him ever since. Johnston chronicled much of Trump’s conduct in two books: Temples of Chance and the bestselling The Making of Donald Trump. He was also an uncredited source of documents and insight for major campaign reports by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and network television. When Trump announced his campaign in June 2015, Johnston was the first national journalist to write about a potential Trump presidency.

Now Johnston examines the first one hundred days of Donald Trump’s presidency, including a close look at what the mainstream press stopped covering years ago: the workings of the federal government agencies and how that touches the lives of all Americans, from our wallets to our health care to our safety. He also provides unique insight about how our lives are affected by many actions that the new administration quietly approves without drawing the attention of the Washington press corps.

Featuring Johnston’s renowned skill in bringing government policy to life, this crucial book clearly explains how our daily lives will be affected by the actions of the Trump Administration. This is essential reading for all Americans.
David Cay Johnston
“No other modern country gives corporations the unfettered power found in America to gouge cus­tomers, shortchange workers, and erect barriers to fair play. A big reason is that so little of the news . . . addresses the private, government-approved mechanisms by which price gouging is employed to redistribute income upward.”

You are being systematically exploited by powerful corporations every day. These companies squeeze their trusting customers for every last cent, risk their retirement funds, and endanger their lives. And they do it all legally. How? It’s all in the fine print.

David Cay Johnston, the bestselling author of Per­fectly Legal and Free Lunch, is famous for exposing the perfidies of our biggest institutions. Now he turns his attention to the ways huge corporations hide sneaky stipulations in just about every contract, often with government permission.

Johnston has been known to whip out a utility bill and explain line by line what all that mumbo jumbo actually means (and it doesn’t mean anything good, unless you happen to be the utility company). Within all that jargon, disclosed in accordance with all legal requirements, lie the tools these companies use to rob you blind. Even worse is what’s missing—all the contractually binding clauses that companies hide elsewhere yet still enforce and abuse. Consider, for example, how:

An insurance company repeatedly delayed paying for a paralyzed man’s vital care despite court orders to pay up. Laws in nineteen states let companies like Goldman Sachs, General Electric, and Procter & Gamble pocket the state income taxes withheld from their workers’ paychecks for up to twenty-five years. A little-known government rule gives safety waiv­ers to deadly industrial facilities secretly located underneath schools and playgrounds. The “FCC Charge” on your phone bill, which appears to be a government fee, actually goes straight to the phone company.

Johnston shares solutions you can use to fight back against the hundreds of obscure fees and taxes that line the pockets of big corporations, and to help end these devious practices once and for all.

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