Session 4

February 17th
Session Four: Reducing Social and Racial Inequality: Basic Income, Universal Health Care, New Deal Type Stimulus Package for Job Creation, Affordable Housing, Eliminating Student Debt, Reparations, The People’s Budget

This session will focus on the increasing social inequality in the United States and its consequences. We will be guided by the following questions:


  • Discussed Texas power grid collapse and Malthusian comments about social darwinism from mayor of Colorado City
  • Bezos is now making $150k/hr
    • His workers in Oklahoma are striking for a living wage
    • $15/hr is not enough to survive anymore


  1. What do we mean by “social inequality” and “racial inequality”?
    • Disparate impact in things like health outcomes, wealth, and access to vital resources like food and water
  2. How do we measure social inequality and racial inequality?
    • By measuring that disparate impact
  3. How do social inequality and racial inequality impact urban life?
    • by causing social problems
  4. What strategies and policies can be used to reduce social and racial inequalities?
    • Living wage
    • Public healthcare
    • Taxing wealth, stock trades, inheritance, etc
    • Mandating regional minimum wages everywhere which are higher than the cost of living and that update automatically every year based on increases in cost of living.
  5. How do we define a “decent living standard” in cities around the world? (Energy article)
  6. Is there a universal standard of “well being”?
  7. What standards are required for universal well being?
  8. What is the basic income?
    • A flawed attempt to solve the same problem that the lack of living wage is already not solving; helping wages catch up with cots of living.
  9. What do we learn from a case study of Canada’s basic income proposal?


KPFA Upfront January 25, 2021 Oakland’s Proposed “Peoples Budget”


  1. Growing Wealth Inequality, 2019 – Why The Inequality Gap Is Growing Between Rich And Poor –
    • This is that video we’ve all seen a million times where researchers ask people how wealth is distributed and what the ideal distribution is. The people are super wrong and they argue that things should change to be more like the ideal that clearly emerges in the consensus of the survey.
      • “The ideal is as far removed from reality as the actual distribution is from what people think reality is.”
  2. Global Wealth Inequality, 2013 – This video is not up to date but still has great value (4 minutes)
    • global lower class is 70% of the population controlling just 3% of the wealth
    • next 21% controls just 12% of the global wealth
    • next 10% controls
    • next 8% (global upper-middle class) controls 38% of the world’s wealth
    • top 1% controls 47% of the world’s wealth
      • more annual wealth production than Japan and Germany combined
      • top 8 individuals control more wealth than the bottom 50%
  3. The Insane Scale of Global Wealth Inequality Visualized, 2019 (9 minutes)
  4. Joseph Stiglitz “How Inequality In Today’s Society Endangers Our Future” (1 hour)

Required Reading – For this session, students will take one reading and present it to the class

  1. –
  2. The Ever Growing Income Gap: Without Change African American and Latino Families won’t match White Wealth for Centuries – this is outdated
  5. Free money might be the best way to end poverty, Washington Post, 2013 – heather upload article to 530 Ilearn site
  6. Report of 2020 Billionaires –
  7. What Money Can Buy: The Promise of a universal basic income- and its limitations (Covert, 2011)
    • UBI has ancient roots. Sir Thomas More argued for it in Utopia in 1551.
    • Its recent resurgence stems from concerns about automation and AI
    • It now has widespread support
    • Arguments for why
      • Dramatically reduce poverty
        • Examples
          • Kenya: GiveDirectly NGO
      • 41 million americans living below poverty line in 2016
        • UBI would allow them to fill their unmet needs
      • UBI could be about a real American economic justice
        • No more making the poor submit to humiliation in order to receive benefits
      • UBI could be a more fair way to distribute the nation’s wealth
      • UBI could empower workers to walk away from bad jobs.
      • Federal jobs guarantee could solve many of the same problems.
    • In a recent interview, Yang said $1k is no longer enough and the UBI would need to be doubled (from a year ago), but that as the next Mayor of NYC he does not intend to launch UBI because of budget shortfalls.
      • My own opinion is that UBI tries and fails to address the fundamental problem of the decoupling of wages and the cost of living. Just like minimum wage increases, no one has proposed indexing UBI to cost of living. Therefore costs will simply adjust to consume the UBI, and then everyone will be paying $1k/more for the same things they’re paying for now, and then we will be right back where we started. All the same problems could be solved by automatically indexing regional minimum wage to consumer costs each year.
  8. “Energy Requirements for Decent Living in India, Brazil, and South Africa” – Narasimha D. RaoJihoon Min & Alessio Mastrucci
  9. The Politics of Bernie Sander’s “Medicare For All” (Cassidy, 2017)
  10. New Deal Type Stimulus Package for Job Creation -
  11. The Shockingly Simple, Surprisingly Cost-Effective Way to end Homelessness (Carrier, 2015)
  12. In Liberal San Francisco, Tech Leaders Brawl Over Tax Proposal to Aid Homeless (Conger, 2018)
  13. Eliminating Student Debt
  14. Reparations –
  15. The People’s Budget: A Roadmap to Resistance (2018)


  1. Why we should give everyone a basic income | Rutger Bregman | 17 minutes
  2. Basic Income: An Idea Whose Time Has Come | James Mulvale | 18 minutes

 KPFA Program January 2, 20 Radio Ecoshock, Nature and Energy, Yale University study start at 2:13 minutes


1) Go to:  and calculate your ecological footprint. Be prepared to discuss what you learned about your ecological footprint in class.