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Les Leopold
After graduating from Oberlin College and Princeton University's Woodrow
Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (MPA 1975), Les
co-founded and currently directs two non-profit educational
organizations: The Labor Institute (1976) and the Public Health
Institute (1986). He designs research and educational programs on
occupational safety and health, the environment and economics. Leopold is the author of How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Financial Elites get away with siphoning off America's Wealth (John Wiley and Sons, 2013), The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance destroyed our Jobs, Pensions and Prosperity, and What We Can Do About It, Chelsea Green Publishing, June 2009, and The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007

Entries by Les Leopold

How Wall Street Occupies America: Rising Debt and Runaway Inequality

(42) Comments | Posted January 14, 2015 | 7:58 AM

Increasing debt and runaway inequality are of a piece. That's because debt at compound interest rates is extremely powerful. Borrow a little today and, in time, you could become destitute. To get a feel for its power, imagine that you borrowed just one nickel at 5 percent interest when Christ...

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The Eight Ugly Scars of Runaway Inequality

(32) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 7:28 AM

America is the richest country in all of history. We have the largest economy and the largest number of millionaires and billionaires. At the same time, however, we lead the developed world in economic inequality. In 1965, CEOs received $20 for every dollar earned by the average worker. Today the...

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Runaway Inequality, Runaway Incarceration

(3) Comments | Posted December 22, 2014 | 4:23 AM

Why are white cops shooting unarmed black men?

On one level the story is simple: racism. Too many police officers fear people of color in the neighborhoods they patrol, and are likely to over-react with force during encounters. The local courts also engage in discrimination by failing to indict...

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Are We the World's Most Anti-Worker Nation?

(39) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 1:06 PM

The verdict is in: The typical American is even poorer than his or her equivalent in Greece. The median Australian is four times wealthier. The Canadians are twice as wealthy. To be sure, we continue to lead the world in billionaires (571 in 2014, with China a distant...

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The Driving Force Behind Runaway Inequality

(17) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 5:50 AM

Runaway inequality is destroying the American Dream. Is it too late to save it?

That depends on what is really driving inequality. In the 1960s the gap between CEOs and the average worker was 20 to 1. By 2012 it was 354 to 1. What happened?

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We Are the Most Unequal Society in the Developed World... And We Don't Know It

(426) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 8:53 AM

The American people have spoken. But what did we really say about inequality?

At first glance, it seems that extreme inequality mattered little to the majority of voters who put pro-business candidates into office. After all, the Republicans, along with far too many Democrats, are certain to cater to...

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As Bad As You Think It Is, It's Worse: Wage Theft Comes to America

(395) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 12:24 PM

In Denmark fast food workers make $20 an hour plus benefits, and the corporations who employ them are still profitable. Why there and not here?

The answer is simple and painful -- wage theft. In America corporations are systematically stealing our wages. Virtually everyone in the bottom 95...

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The Hedge Fund That Ate Chicago

(4) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 9:45 AM

There's a battle royale raging in Chicago. It pits hedge funds, the Chicago financial exchanges, real estate interests and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the one side, against public employee unions and community groups on the other.

At issue is whether public employee pension benefits should be slashed.

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New Report Reveals How Wall Street Impoverishes Los Angeles

(28) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 3:26 PM

Los Angeles paid at least $204 million in fees to Wall Street in 2013, and probably significantly more, in addition to principle and interest payments, according to the report, "No Small Fees: LA Spends More on Wall Street than Our Streets." The study, issued today by a coalition...

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Our Most Powerful Weapon Against Wall Street? The Reverse Eminent Domain Movement

(33) Comments | Posted December 23, 2013 | 1:43 PM

Wall Street tore the heart out of our economy. It profited wildly by puffing up the housing bubble. It profited wildly again when the federal government provided more than $10 trillion worth of bailout money and loans. And right now, 95 percent of the economic growth of our so-called recovery...

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Wall Street's Police State?

(26) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 7:50 AM

The U.S. leads the world in prisoners with 2.24 million in jail and more than 4.8 million on parole. That's nearly more than the combination of all those incarcerated in China (1.6 million) and the Russian Federation (681,600).

Minorities have been especially hard hit, forming

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America's Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom

(984) Comments | Posted November 8, 2013 | 7:13 AM

There are 16.4 million American children living in poverty. That's nearly one quarter (22.6 percent) of all of our children. More alarming is that the percentage of poor children has climbed by 4.5 percent since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. And poor means poor. For...

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Banking That Wall Street Will Save Us From the Tea Party and Default?

(14) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 9:59 PM

As we approach the debt limit deadline, we hold our breaths hoping that Wall Street can talk some sense into the Tea Party fanatics. Democrats in particular seem to believe that only Wall Street can pull us back from the brink. But the brink of what? If there's a debt...

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Is the President Selling Out Higher Education to Wall Street?

(60) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 6:46 PM

The Obama Administration is transporting Wall Street logic into higher education by proposing to measure the value of a college by the earnings of its graduates. This conceptual coup may be the best news for Wall Street since the abolition of Glass-Steagall.

We need not repeat all that...

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How Wall Street Devoured the Recovery

(50) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 6:31 AM

We are entering a disastrous new era in which all the economic gains go to the top one percent, according to data from economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. They report that "Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009...

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Happy Labor Day... for Wall Street

(89) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 5:02 PM

Labor Day, established in the late 19th century, "is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers," according to the Department of Labor's website. It is a "tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity,...

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How to End the Student Loan Crisis: Make Wall Street Pay

(266) Comments | Posted July 12, 2013 | 8:36 AM

Anyone with a heartbeat knows that Wall Street took down the economy, killed millions of jobs and hasn't had to pay a penny for the damage it caused. In fact, we are paying them for crashing the economy in the form of trillions in bailouts and low interest loans.

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Big Lie: America Doesn't Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World... We're Ranked 27th!

(1571) Comments | Posted June 28, 2013 | 9:53 AM

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet's riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family...

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The Wall Street-Washington Infection

(2) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 10:51 PM

Knowledge is power. But insider knowledge is more lucrative than power, because it offers the surest path to vast riches. If you know something that will move markets before everyone else does, you will profit mightily.

Normally, we think of insider trading as a Wall Street crime of illegally...

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How to Turn $10,000 Into $1,461,920? Find a Hedge Fund That Cheats

(54) Comments | Posted May 30, 2013 | 11:56 PM

How would you like to invest $10,000 and watch it grow over twenty years into $1,461,920? Well that's what happened at the giant hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, which made a 30 percent return for 20 years in a row.

How is it possible to make such profitable investments...

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