United for a Fair Economy (UFE)

United for a Fair Economy (UFE)


* Seeks to “promote economic justice” by minimizing economic inequality

United for a Fair Economy (UFE) was co-founded in 1995 by then-New Party member Chuck Collins (who is currently a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies) and the late Felice Yeskel, longtime social-justice/lesbian activist. Asserting that “concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart,” UFE works to “promote economic justice” in the United States by supporting movements that analyze “the causes and effects of economic inequality” and strive to minimize it.

Particularly troubling to UFE is the fact that “the top 1% of our society holds 24% of the total wealth in the country.” This “growing economic division between the super-wealthy and the middle class,” says the organization, “is bad for our communities, our democracy, and our future.” Lamenting, further, that “profits alone”—rather than humanitarian values—tend to “guide economic decisions” throughout contemporary America, UFE envisions “a global society where prosperity is better shared, where there is genuine equality of opportunity, [and] where the power of concentrated money and corporations neither dominates the economy nor dictates the content of mass culture.”

The following five projects form the core of UFE’s work:

* Racial Wealth Divide: UFE views America as a nation where white bigotry and discrimination remain pervasive; where race still plays a major “role … in economic inequality”; and where deeply ingrained institutional “boundaries to economic parity” continue to afflict “communities of color” on a daily basis. To address these matters, UFE offers workshops, conducts research, and produces publications designed to teach community leaders, activist organizations, and the public at large how to work collaboratively to abolish the “racial wealth divide.”[1]

* Responsible Wealth (RW): This UFE program consists of well-to-do business leaders, investors, and inheritors who, notwithstanding their own personal affluence, “advocate for fair taxes” in the form of a steeply progressive tax structure. These wealthy RW advocates firmly believe that “growing inequality is not in their best interest, nor in the best interest of society”; that “greater corporate accountability” is needed to counteract the “greedy and harmful corporate practices” that have accompanied “the rising power and political muscle of major corporations in recent decades”; and that “when corporations acquire too much power and influence, it threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our democracy.”

* Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC): Identifying “tax policies” as “one of the driving factors for our growing economic divide in the U.S.,” TFOC is a network of 28 state-level advocacy groups (located in 24 states) that use grassroots organizing to promote “fair and adequate taxation at the state and federal levels.” By UFE’s reckoning, too many social-service programs have been cut in recent years because “the current tax code does not raise enough revenue.” Additional revenues should be obtained, says UFE, mainly “from the wealthy and from corporations”—i.e., the “beneficiaries of economic policies [that are] tilted in their favor.”

* Popular Economics Education: UFE periodically conducts participatory workshops designed to “transform economic statistics into engaging learning experiences [designed] to move people to action”—that is, to fight tax policies that allegedly favor the wealthy.

* Estate Tax: UFE is a staunch supporter of the estate tax, or inheritance tax, “because of what it represents: the common good and opportunity for all Americans.” To make a case in favor of this tax, the UFE website quotes a number of fellow advocates who contend, for instance, that “an estate tax is a responsibility which should be inescapable and which people should be proud to pay”; “an estate tax helps avoid accumulation of inherited economic and political power that is antithetical to th[e] historical vision of our society”; “we should celebrate the estate tax as an ‘economic opportunity recycling’ program”; and “the least deserving recipients of wealth are inheritors.”


[1] One effective strategy for closing that divide, UFE suggests, is to promote the unionization of work forces—on grounds that labor unions historically “have fought to strengthen minimum wage laws, worker safety protections, and public safety nets.”

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