Plutocrats

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pages: 481 words: 120,693

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, assortative mating, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, call centre, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, double helix, energy security, estate planning, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Gini coefficient, global village, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, high net worth, income inequality, invention of the steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, liberation theology, light touch regulation, linear programming, London Whale, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, open economy, Peter Thiel, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Solar eclipse in 1919, sovereign wealth fund, starchitect, stem cell, Steve Jobs, the new new thing, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, Washington Consensus, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

Globalization and the technology revolution—and the worldwide economic growth they are creating—are fundamental drivers of the rise of the plutocrats. Even rent-seeking plutocrats—those who owe their fortunes chiefly to favorable government decisions—have also been enriched partly by this growing global economic pie. America still dominates the world economy, and Americans still dominate the super-elite. But this book also tries to put U.S. plutocrats into a global context. The rise of the 1 percent is a global phenomenon, and in a globalized world economy, the plutocrats are the most international of all, both in how they live their lives and in how they earn their fortunes. — Henry George, the nineteenth-century American economist and politician, was an ardent free trader and such a firm believer in free enterprise that he opposed income tax. For him, the emergence of his era’s plutocrats, the robber barons, was “the Great Sphinx.”

But there is little debate about the aims—it is hard to find anyone who argues that U.S. schoolchildren need less education or that Africans deserve fewer doctors and less medicine. But some idea-driven plutocrats venture into more obviously contested terrain. The plutocrat-as-politician is becoming an important member of the world’s governing elite, ranging from pragmatic problem solvers with a yen for the public stage, such as Mike Bloomberg or Mitt Romney, to emerging market billionaires whose wealth emboldens them to challenge authoritarian rulers, like Russia’s Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Egypt’s Naguib Sawiris. The plutocratic politician can use his own money to bankroll his campaign directly, and also to build a network of civic support through the less explicitly political donations of his personal foundation. Some farsighted plutocrats try to use their money not merely to buy public office for themselves but to redirect the reigning ideology of a nation, a region, or even the world.

The Chinese hate comparisons with Russia’s capitalist transition—when my book on Russia’s sale of the century was translated into Chinese, the first question Chinese journalists always asked me was “How were the Russian market reforms a failure compared to the Chinese approach?”—but many of their plutocrats have been the beneficiaries of a slower and more opaque version of the same transition from total state ownership to some private property. Tellingly, both the Chinese and the Russians refer to the murky first fortunes of their liberalization-era plutocrats as their “original sins.” Second, China has what you might call robber baron plutocrats: the rent-seeking billionaires who develop a network of government connections and use them to reap windfall fortunes at a moment of rapid economic growth—in China’s case, the shift from a poor, rural economy to an urban and industrial one. America doesn’t think too highly of its robber barons, but these, like the privatization plutocrats, are not the worst kind to have. Both use personal connections to unfairly benefit from a massive transition, and both capture value that a fair and effective state would have diverted to the common good.


pages: 239 words: 56,531

The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine by Peter Lunenfeld

Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, anti-globalists, Apple II, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business cycle, butterfly effect, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, East Village, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Grace Hopper, gravity well, Guggenheim Bilbao, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-materialism, Potemkin village, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, social software, spaced repetition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, walkable city, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

—Douglas Engelbart It’s not the technology that lives. It’s the dream that lives. —Alan Kay Doug Engelbart worked in the world that the Plutocrats ruled, but made the world in which we live. He drew inspiration from the visions of the Patriarchs, and they funded his campaign against the culture of the Plutocrats. As an army radio operator in the Philippines just after World War II, Engelbart read Bush’s seminal article, “As We May Think,” and its vision sustained him all the way through graduate school and into his first positions in California. Engelbart devoted his life to developing a new way to think about computers—not data processing machines 157 GENERATIONS as per the Plutocrats, but instead augmenters of the human intellect.14 He did his major work of this period at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), near Stanford University, where he was supported by funding from Licklider’s DARPA, because Licklider understood that Engelbart’s work took the modes of participation and linked them to the goal of augmentation.

Like the sidebars, the historical narrative concentrates on personal stories, with two figures from each generation discussed at length, and a concentration on the ways in which the memes of simulation and participation developed and intertwined over the years. The first generation, the Patriarchs, established these foundational memes in the early years after World War II. They were followed by the Plutocrats, who turned computing into a business during the 1950s and 1960s. In opposition to the profit-minded Plutocrats, the 1960s and 1970s brought us the Aquarians, who proposed the visual, personalized, networked computers. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Hustlers took this vision and turned it into a commodity, getting it on to desktops worldwide. The next generation, that of the Hosts, connected these machines together into a truly World Wide Web, and pushed participation to the next level.

I characterize the first generation as the patriarchs—here represented by the idiosyncratic visionary/bureaucrat/scientists 143 GENERATIONS Vannevar Bush and J.C.R. Licklider—who establish the founding memes in the early years after World War II through the early 1960s. They are followed in turn by the Plutocrats— Thomas Watson Sr. and Thomas Watson Jr. of IBM—who make a business out of computing, centralizing the operations into top-down bureaucracies during the 1950s and 1960s. In reaction to the buttoned-down, all-business attitudes of the Plutocrats, the Aquarians of the 1960s and 1970s—people like Douglas Englebart and Alan Kay—expand on the more openended ideas of the Patriarchs, and develop the paradigm of visual, personalized, networked computing. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Hustlers—Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs—commodify this personalized vision, putting a distinctive, “new economy” stamp on computing.


pages: 296 words: 98,018

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

"side hustle", activist lawyer, affirmative action, Airbnb, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Heinemeier Hansson, deindustrialization, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, friendly fire, global pandemic, high net worth, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hyperloop, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor, zero-sum game

This in itself was disturbing to many rich people, who preferred to talk about reducing poverty or extending opportunity, not about more thoroughgoing reforms that would perhaps require sacrifice. Walker’s letter had squarely blamed the very elites who give back through philanthropy for ignoring their complicity in causing the problems they later seek to solve. Before writing the letter, Walker had been universally popular with the plutocrats, which isn’t to say that everyone disliked what he had written. Robert Rubin, late of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and the Treasury Department, told Walker he loved the letter, finding it “fresh and different.” He said he had “never read anything that did that.” But many plutocrats objected to Walker’s shining the spotlight on inequality, instead of the issues they were more comfortable talking about, like poverty or opportunity. They disliked that he framed the issue in a way that blamed them rather than inviting them to participate in a solution.

Yet it was easier to apply that principle to a project in Africa, perhaps, than it was to deploy it in America when taking on the problem of soft drinks, juice boxes, and childhood obesity. One’s American plutocrat friends didn’t necessarily have a problem with more energetic government in Africa. But they preferred win-win solutions in their own backyard, where energetic government sounded like it could end up being expensive. Clinton didn’t like to think that his connections to, and enrichment from, the super-wealthy had changed him in any way, or shaped his manner of thinking about things. Yes, he had become, in a sense, one of the worldwide chieftains of thought leadership, charging as much as a few hundred thousand dollars a speech. Yes, he reportedly lunched before some of these speeches with smaller groups of plutocrats who paid, say, $10,000 a head to eat with him and hear his take on the world. But, Clinton argued, “When you can’t make decisions which benefit them anymore, it’s less of a concern.”

Socially minded financiers at Goldman Sachs seek to change the world through “win-win” initiatives like “green bonds” and “impact investing.” Tech companies like Uber and Airbnb cast themselves as empowering the poor by allowing them to chauffeur people around or rent out spare rooms. Management consultants and Wall Street brains seek to convince the social sector that they should guide its pursuit of greater equality by assuming board seats and leadership positions. Conferences and idea festivals sponsored by plutocrats and big business host panels on injustice and promote “thought leaders” who are willing to confine their thinking to improving lives within the faulty system rather than tackling the faults. Profitable companies built in questionable ways and employing reckless means engage in corporate social responsibility, and some rich people make a splash by “giving back”—regardless of the fact that they may have caused serious societal problems as they built their fortunes.


pages: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

With a personal fortune of upwards of $5.5 billion – built on a tobacco inheritance and augmented by luxury brands such as Cartier, Chloé and Vacheron Constantin – South African Johann Rupert revealed he had been having nightmares. He could not sleep, he said, because he saw inequality generating envy, hatred and social warfare. He was worried stiff by the prospect of revolt. Addressing his well-heeled audience, he concluded, ‘It’s unfair. So that’s what keeps me awake at night.’ One feels Johann’s pain. On the other side of the Atlantic, in Seattle, venture capitalist and fellow plutocrat Nick Hanauer, another who drew his first fat cheques from a dynastic family business, albeit one making feather bedding rather than cigarettes, was worrying about pitchforks aimed in his direction and his ‘fellow 0.01ers’. In his dreams, he feared the sans-culottes of the French Revolution, who sent the aristocrats to the guillotine. To avert the threat, he advocated a higher minimum wage, a desirable move but hardly one that would threaten the structures producing the malaise of inequality and insecurity.

But now over half of China’s output is attributable to services, including financial services. It and Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore have become rentier economies, with the means to invest in rich countries and buy up companies and other assets. They have accumulated large cash hoards by keeping labour costs low, which constrains consumption at home. Concentrated in the hands of a few plutocrats and a growing elite, this ‘savings glut’ has created a stock of funds to invest in assets all over the world, much of it in property. China has become a special rentier economy. State-owned enterprises spearheaded its export-led industrialisation, helped by subsidies and low wages. The resultant trade surpluses, alongside capital inflows, enabled China to accumulate vast foreign currency reserves.

It is a Ponzi scheme, a sleight of hand that creates a vehicle for generating rental income, until the resultant bubble bursts, as similar bubbles have burst with impressive frequency since the 1980s.32 If nothing else, the rentier economy creates a rollercoaster ride, causing havoc and misery in its wake. THE GREAT GATSBY CURVE Adam Smith, father of mainstream economics, suggested that a man ‘must be rich or poor according to the quantity of labour which he can command’. On that basis, today’s plutocrats are the richest men (and women) in history, not just because they are wealthier, but because their money gives them unprecedented power. In the First Gilded Age, the world’s richest man, John D. Rockefeller, could have hired 116,000 US workers with the income from his wealth. In 2004, Carlos Slim, who rivals Bill Gates as the world’s richest man, could have hired 440,000 of his fellow Mexicans with his annual income, not wealth.33 By 2014, he could have hired 2 million Mexicans.34 Growing inequality is commonly attributed to the weakened bargaining position of workers vis-à-vis capital, due to globalisation and technological change.


The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. Korten

Albert Einstein, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, clean water, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, death of newspapers, declining real wages, different worldview, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, God and Mammon, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Monroe Doctrine, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, new economy, peak oil, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Project for a New American Century, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sexual politics, shared worldview, social intelligence, source of truth, South Sea Bubble, stem cell, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, trade route, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, World Values Survey

Renewing the Historic Alliance Historically, rejection of the democratic ideal in America has coalesced around one or both of two fundamentalisms. Plutocrats, heirs to the vision of Alexander Hamilton, embrace a market fundamentalism that legitimates unaccountable rule by persons of financial means. Theocrats, heirs to the Calvinist vision of John Winthrop, embrace a religious fundamentalism that legitimates unaccountable rule by those of a prescribed faith and celebrates wealth and power as a mark of God’s favor. Although plutocrats give priority to material values and theocrats to spiritual values, their shared drive for dominator power and aversion to democracy make them allies of convenience. In the late 1960s, a small group of plutocrats and theocrats formed an alliance to avert the fall of Empire and drive the U.S. political center sharply to the right. It proved a powerful combination. The plutocrats delivered the money in record amounts for political campaigns, think tanks, and media outreach.

Calvinist belief in human depravity affirms the underlying dehumanizing premise of neoliberal economics that humans are by nature Inauspicious Beginning 165 capable only of selfish acts. This belief, combined with the belief in the superior righteousness of those blessed with wealth and power, provides a foundation for an easy alliance between contemporary religious theocrats and contemporary corporate plutocrats. The theocrats affirm the moral righteousness of the plutocrats, and the plutocrats provide media and funding support for politicians committed to the theocrats’ restrictive social agenda. GENOCIDE When Christopher Columbus landed on a Caribbean island to “discover” America in 1492, a generous Native people greeted him warmly with food, water, and other gifts. It was their first encounter with Empire. Columbus wrote in his log: They… brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells.

In the manner of an immature democracy, the political culture focused on individual rights, with little sense of the civic responsibility required of a mature democracy. Then a deeper cultural challenge began to emerge. 217 218 PART III: AMERIC A, THE UNFINISHED PROJECT CULTURAL AND ECONOMIC CHALLENGES TO EMPIRE The 1960s were a time of cultural ferment. A new generation told the corporate plutocrats, “We don’t buy into your consumerism and your wars.” It told the theocrats, “We have no use for your narrow interpretations of biblical authority and rigid standards of sexual morality.” African Americans and women of all races were telling both plutocrats and theocrats, “We reject your efforts to define us as something less than fully human; we demand recognition of our humanity.” Traditional lines of authority, including those of the traditional family, were eroding. There was also a growing global environmental consciousness that challenged the conventional wisdom of economic growth.


pages: 193 words: 63,618

The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich by Ndongo Sylla

British Empire, carbon footprint, corporate social responsibility, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Doha Development Round, Food sovereignty, global value chain, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, labour mobility, land reform, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, Naomi Klein, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, open economy, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, selection bias, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

All other things being equal, it is probably normal that the number of certifications should be higher for countries with a large market and a higher than average purchasing power. This plutocratic bias leads to a major contradiction, however: the genuine ‘targets’ of Fair Trade tend to be sidestepped in favour of exotic clients entering the FT system simply because they are fortunate to live in a country with a larger than average market. Thus, dependent countries among the poorest on the planet tend to be excluded in favour of others such as India, Mexico and South Africa that have less of a need for Fair Trade a priori. Another way of illustrating this plutocratic bias is to look at the regional distribution of hired labour organisations (25 per cent of the total of organisations having received FT certification in 2009).

Beyond these demand-side considerations (purchasing power, economic size, etc.), we must point out that the plutocratic logic is also enhanced by supply effects. As a general rule, the level of economic development is positively correlated with the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, which measures the ease of conducting trade. In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa has the highest score in this respect. This is also the case for India in South Asia (World Bank, 2010b). 137 Sylla T02779 01 text 137 28/11/2013 13:04 the fair trade scandal Box 5.1 The dilemma of a Rwandan cooperative: excluding the poorest of the poor or leaving the FT system In order to provide a more sociological illustration of the plutocratic bias of Fair Trade, we can refer to a very interesting article by Jonathan Penson (2007), a teacher/education specialist who spent time with producers in Uganda and Rwanda.

Chapter 4 describes and discusses the economic model on which Fair Trade is based, focusing on its limitations when it comes to reducing poverty in the South, as well as on the issue of its local impact. Chapter 5 addresses the global impact of this movement. Indeed, there is often a major confusion between the local impact and the global impact of Fair Trade. This is unfortunate. It is by examining the functions of the movement on a global level that the main argument of this book is made, namely that Fair Trade is based on a plutocratic logic: speaking on behalf of the poor, but really being at the service of the less poor and the richer. In some way, Fair Trade needs the poor more than the poor need Fair Trade. 7 Sylla T02779 01 text 7 28/11/2013 13:04 1 On the Inequalities of the International Trade System It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of climbing up after him.


pages: 273 words: 87,159

The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy by Peter Temin

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anti-communist, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, clean water, corporate raider, Corrections Corporation of America, crack epidemic, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, full employment, income inequality, intangible asset, invisible hand, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, mortgage debt, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nixon shock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, price stability, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, the scientific method, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, white flight, working poor

Since the FTE sector will not support city services, urban conditions continue to deteriorate. FTE sector people do not experience many of the urban problems as they live separately and only visit cities when they want to. Many of them probably think that America’s urban troubles belong to a separate, less developed country. Some of the very rich, the plutocrats, are moving now into tall glass towers in center cities. These well-maintained apartment buildings are very different from the underfunded buildings containing subsidized urban housing. The plutocrats travel in their own cars or car services; they seldom take public transportation. They often are not raising children in the city, and they send their children to private schools if they are. They are in the city, but only partially engaged in urban activities.6 The disadvantages of black students extended into some new suburbs.

This well-known graph comes from Thomas Piketty, author of Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, and his colleagues who have developed data for the richest 1 percent of the population for many countries as far back as the data allow. The top group in figure 1 contains 20 percent of the population, and the path of what is called the “one percent” shows the pattern. Chrystia Freeland calls this group “the plutocrats.” A graph of the next 19 percent looks like figure 3, albeit not quite as steep. And a graph of college graduates—representing something close to the top 30 percent of the population—shows that the educational premium has risen as well. The higher one goes in the income distribution, the more rapid the growth of incomes in recent decades, and the pattern of differential growth extends to the upper 20 percent of the income distribution.2 Figure 3 Top 1 percent income share in the United States Source: http://www.wid.world/ Graphs like figures 2 and 3 have become common since the global financial crisis of 2008, although the two curves often are discussed by different people.

The sample of rich people was not constructed to show difference within the sample, but wealthier individuals were significantly more likely to want reduced regulation than the poorer members of the one percent. This study provides a window into the attitudes and preferences of the one-percent group, which wants to reduce government activities in order to reduce government deficits. They do not want their taxes raised to lower government deficits, and they favor tax cuts when they can get them.3 The one-percenters were introduced by Chrystia Freeland as follows in Plutocrats: “They are becoming a trans global community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home.” And she concluded with the comment of a businessman: “the per capita consumption of the Western middle class would have to decline as the developed and developing worlds ‘meet somewhere in the middle.’”4 Moving upward in the income distribution—and downward in table 7.1—the 1 percent of the 1 percent are more intensely focused on lower taxes than the 1 percent group as a whole.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, anti-globalists, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, WikiLeaks, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Organisations like Oxfam, torn between doing so and legitimising the event and missing the chance to highlight the situation of the poor and powerless in the gaze of the world’s press, opt for attending. Forty heads of state attended Davos 2014. It’s now become a venue for side meetings to address major geopolitical issues – like the Syrian crisis. Evidently a global plutocrats’ forum is seen as an appropriate setting for them; at least business interests will be represented. (Well, plutocrat politicians are there anyway, so why not make global diplomacy come to them?) And business has major interests in wars, particularly resource wars, as was so clear in Halliburton’s, G4S’s and other companies’ involvement in the Iraq war. Meanwhile, the governed are kept at bay through massive security. Noam Chomsky contrasts the WEF with the alternative World Social Forum: The dominant propaganda systems have appropriated the term ‘globalization’ to refer to the specific version of international economic integration that they favor, which privileges the rights of investors and lenders, those of people being incidental.

Boris Johnson looks to intelligence to explain equality gap’, 28 November, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/28/iq-intelligence-boris-johnson-_n_4355372.html. 8 Bourdieu, P. (1993) Sociology in question, London: Sage, p 14. 9 Chakrabortty, A. (2013) ‘Looking for a party funding scandal: try David Cameron’s Conservatives’, Guardian, 8 July, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/08/party-funding-scandal-david-cameron-conservatives. 10 Froud, J. et al. (2012) ‘Groundhog Day: elite power, democratic disconnects and the failure of financial reform in the UK’, CRESC Working Paper No 108, University of Manchester, p 16, http://www.cresc.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Groundhog%20Day%20Elite%20power,%20democratic%20disconnects%20and%20the%20failure%20of%20financial%20reform%20in%20the%20UK%20CRESC%20WP108%20(Version%202).pdf. 11 The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (2011) ‘Tory Party funding from City doubles under Cameron’, 8 February, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/02/08/city-financing-of-the-conservative-party-doublesunder-cameron/. 12 The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (2011) ‘Hedge funds, financiers and private equity make up 27% of Tory funding’, 30 September, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/09/30/hedgefunds-financiers-and-private-equity-tycoons-make-up-27-of-tory-funding/. 13 Hutton, W. (2010) Them and us, London: Little, Brown, p 179. 14 Powerbase (2001) ‘New Labour: donors’, http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/New_Labour:_Donors. 15 Peston, R. (2008) ‘Pointing fingers at the plutocrats’, Telegraph, 26 January, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/2783334/Pointing-fingers-at-the-plutocrats.html. 16 Wintour, P. (2013) ‘Labour backer says £1.65m donation was given in shares to avoid tax’, Guardian, 6 June, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jun/06/labour-party-backer-donation-tax. Giving shares was also a smart way of making sure New Labour supported his business, as the value of the shares would have fallen if it didn’t. 17 Chakrabortty (2013). 18 However, according to Robert Reich, the identities of many of the donors are hidden: hundreds of millions of dollars are poured into political advertisements without a trace of where the money is coming from.

Tax avoidance and evasion cost £260 million a day’, 13 September, http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2013/09/13/benefit-errors-cost-1-million-a-day-tax-avoidance-and-evasion-cost-260-million-a-day/. 20 Indiviglio, D. (2011) ‘In Norway everyone’s income is public – and so is tax paid’, The Atlantic, 23 July, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/07/in-norway-everyones-income-is-public-and-so-is-tax-paid/242386/; Tax Justice Network (2011) ‘Finland publishes all tax receipts in public’, 2 November, http://taxjustice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/finland-publishes-all-personal-tax.html. 21 There are also smaller subsidies that benefit the rich, which could be cut, including subsidies to landowners of grouse moors (£56 per hectare); these actually damage the environment by damaging peat, by CO2 emissions from burning heather and by limiting biodiversity. See Monbiot, G. (2014) ‘This cash for grouse scandal shows how Britain became a plutocrats’ paradise’, Guardian, 29 April, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/28/britain-plutocrats-landed-gentry-shotgun-owners. 22 Smith, A. (1976) [1776] The wealth of nations, ed. E. Cannan, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, vol 1, bk I, ch IX, p 110. This fits Apple perfectly, for example. 23 In Britain, the Living Wage Foundation defined a living wage – geared to the cost of living – as £7.65 per hour (London £8.80) in January 2014, while the government’s minimum wage was set at £6.31: http://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-living-wage. 24 Richard Duncan argues that an increase in low hourly wages from $3 to $4 would boost demand by a third but would increase export prices much less – 2–3%, he estimates (in Blackburn, R. (2011) Age shock, London: Verso).


pages: 558 words: 168,179

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, anti-communist, Bakken shale, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, centre right, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, corporate raider, crony capitalism, David Brooks, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, energy security, estate planning, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Gilder, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Mont Pelerin Society, More Guns, Less Crime, Nate Silver, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, school choice, school vouchers, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, the scientific method, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, War on Poverty, working poor

“It is markets, not government, that can provide the strongest engine for growth, lifting us out of these troubling times,” he insisted. Obama’s inaugural address lived up to his worst dreams. The freshly sworn-in president all but declared war on the notion that markets work best when government regulates them least. “Without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control,” Obama warned. Then, sounding almost as if he were taking aim directly at corporate plutocrats like those gathered in Indian Wells, Obama declared that “the nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.” It was against this threatening political backdrop that Charles Koch mustered what a fellow conservative, Craig Shirley, described as “the mercantile Right” to take back, and if possible take over, American politics. Obama’s election added urgency to the mission, but the gathering in Indian Wells was not a first for the Kochs.

Stephen Schwarzman, who was in general less of a political activist than Singer, might have first become involved in the Kochs’ political enterprise out of happenstance. In 2000, he paid $37 million for the palatial triplex that had previously belonged to John D. Rockefeller Jr. at 740 Park Avenue, the same Manhattan co-op building in which David Koch bought an apartment three years later. By the time Obama was elected, Schwarzman had become something of a poster boy for Wall Street excess. As Chrystia Freeland writes in her book Plutocrats, the June 21, 2007, initial public offering of stock in Blackstone, his phenomenally successful private equity company, “marked the date when America’s plutocracy had its coming-out party.” By the end of the day, Schwarzman had made $677 million from selling shares, and he retained additional shares then valued at $7.8 billion. Schwarzman’s stunning payday made a huge and not entirely favorable impression in Washington.

Because of all these advantages, private philanthropic foundations proliferated among the ultra-wealthy during the last century. Today, they are commonplace, and rarely controversial, but Americans across the political spectrum once regarded the whole idea of private foundations with enormous suspicion. These aggregations of private wealth, intruding into the public arena, were seen as a form of unelected and unaccountable plutocratic power. The practice began in the Gilded Age with John D. Rockefeller, whose philanthropic adviser Rev. Frederick Gates warned him with alarm, “Your fortune is rolling up, rolling up like an avalanche! You must keep up with it! You must distribute it faster than it grows!” In response, in 1909 Rockefeller sought legal permission from Congress to obtain a federal charter to set up a general-purpose private foundation whose broad mission was to prevent and relieve suffering and promote knowledge and progress.


Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World by Branko Milanovic

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, assortative mating, barriers to entry, basic income, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, colonial rule, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liberal capitalism, low skilled workers, Lyft, means of production, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-materialism, purchasing power parity, remote working, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, uber lyft, universal basic income, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working-age population, Xiaogang Anhui farmers

An altogether different evolution of liberal capitalism would be a movement toward a plutocratic and ultimately political capitalism. This scenario is also possible—and the stronger the plutocratic features in today’s liberal capitalism become, the more likely such an evolution is. It would be an evolution to a large extent compatible with the interests of the new elite that is being formed under liberal capitalism. It would enable the elite to be much more autonomous from the rest of society. In fact, as shown in Chapter 2, the preservation of the elite requires its control of the political domain, what I called “tying up the knot on wealth and power.” The more economic and political power in liberal capitalism become united, the more liberal capitalism becomes plutocratic and comes to resemble political capitalism. In the latter, political control is the way to acquire economic benefits; in plutocratic, formerly liberal, capitalism, economic power is used to conquer politics.

It is spurred by the ideology of money-making, which is the ideology that underlies capitalist globalization, and it is made possible thanks to the mobility of capital. But in addition, both political capitalism and the trend toward plutocratic rule in liberal capitalism “normalize” it. I have argued in Chapter 3 that corruption is an intrinsic part of political capitalism. The time has come to normalize corruption: we need to see corruption, in both types of capitalism, as a return (analogous to a rent) to a special factor of production, political power, which some individuals possess and others do not. Corruption is bound to increase with globalization, political capitalism, and plutocratic rule. Economists, who are not moralists, should treat corruption like any other type of income. This is what I do in the last part of the chapter. 4.1 Labor: Migration 4.1a Definition of the Citizenship Premium or Rent The systematic differences in income between people who are equally educated, motivated, and make the same effort but are citizens of different countries can be called the “citizenship premium” or “citizenship penalty.”

See Household surveys National revolutions, in Third World, 79–82 Nations, intergenerational transmission of collectively acquired wealth among, 158–159 Native populations, reconciling concerns of with desires of migrants, 142–147 Natural liberty, 12 Navigation Act, Smith on, 114, 248n45 NBS survey, 104 Neiman, Brent, 24 Neo-Hobbsian capitalism, 210 Neoliberalism, 209–210 Netherlands, GDP per capita, 211, 212 NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), moral money laundering and, 169–170 Niceness: commercialized society and, 177; commodification and, 193, 194, 196 Nobel Factor, The (Offer & Söderberg), 51 Norway, inequality in income from capital and labor in, 26–27, 29 Novokmet, Filip, 105, 168 Oakland (California), universal basic income in, 202 Obama, Barack, 57, 186 Offer, Avner, 51, 203 Offshoring, 152–153 Oligarchy, movement from democracy to, 56 One-off grants, 201, 242n43 On New Democracy (Mao), 245n12 “On Representative Government” (Mill), 57 Open capital accounts, worldwide corruption and, 163, 168–170, 174 Organized labor, decline in power of, 25, 42–43 Origins of Political Order, The (Fukuyama), 115 Outsourcing, 136; of family activities / services, 190; of internal family legal code, 189; of morality, 180–184 Overbeek, Hans, 116 Owners, division of net product between workers and, 14–16 Page, Benjamin, 56 Panama Papers, 169 Paradise Papers, 169 Pareto, Vilfredo, 65 Partimonialization of the state, 120 Party officials in China, corruption and, 108–112 Paul (apostle), 155 Peace, capitalism and, 206–207 Pei, Minxin, 109–111, 164 People’s capitalism, 48, 215, 216 Piketty, Thomas: on capital flight out of Russia, 168; on income shares of capital and labor, 15; on inherited wealth, 62; on private wealth in China, 103–104; on ratio between capital and income, 27; on rising share of labor income in top 1 percent, 18; systemic and incidental factors driving inequality up, 22, 23 Piñera, José, 167–168 Pinochet, Augusto, 167 Plato, 4, 68–69 Plutocratic political capitalism, 217–218 Polanyi, Karl, 195 Political campaigns, public funding of, 217 Political capitalism, 67–128; China and, 67, 87–91; competition with liberal meritocratic capitalism, 10–11; corruption and, 120–121; countries with systems of, 96–98; durability and global attractiveness of, 112–128; economic rise of Asia and, 5–6; “export” of Chinese, 118–128; inequality in China and, 98–112; key features of, 91–98; liberal capitalism vs., 207–211; place of communism in history and, 68–78; plutocratic, 217–218; possible evolution of, 215–218; role of communist revolutions in bringing capitalism to Third World and, 67, 78–91; systemic characteristics and systemic contradictions of, 91–96; transferability of Chinese, 123–125; viability of, 128 Political control, of upper class, 56–59 Political effects of political capitalism’s success in China, 9 Political elites, autonomy of in political capitalism, 11 Political freedom, trade-off between income and, 208–209 Political power, distribution in China, 116 Politico-capitalist class, in China, 94, 116 Polyarchy, 119 Popper, Karl, 244n3 Postcapitalism (Mason), 194, 255n18 Post–Cold War world, contours of, 1–11; capitalism as the only socioeconomic system, 2–5; rise of Asia and the rebalancing of the world, 2, 5–11 Private companies, in China, 88–89 Private investment, in China, 89–90 Private life, in daily capitalism, 190–196 Private sphere: commodification of, 194–196; interaction with public sphere, 189–190 Private wealth, increase in China in, 103–104 Production: “Asiatic” mode of, 74, 75, 245n7; folding household into capitalist mode of production, 189–190; free movement of factors of, 136–141; global fragmentation of, 251n13; global value chains and organization of, 147–148; household mode of, 189; people as capitalist centers of production, 194–196; wage labor outside the home, 189 Production and pricing decisions in China, 90–91 Production possibility frontier, 87 Progressive taxation, attempting to redress inequality and, 45 Property rights: in China, 116–117; global value chains and, 148 Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, The (Weber), 91 Protestantism, capitalism and, 179 Protocommmunist policies, 46 Public education: liberal capitalism and, 13, 43–44; need for increase in funding and improvement of, 217.


pages: 356 words: 91,157

The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class?and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida

affirmative action, Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, Columbine, congestion charging, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, East Village, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, Ferguson, Missouri, Gini coefficient, Google bus, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, jitney, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land value tax, low skilled workers, Lyft, megacity, Menlo Park, mortgage tax deduction, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, occupational segregation, Paul Graham, plutocrats, Plutocrats, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, superstar cities, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, young professional

To take but one example: just six metro areas—the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Washington, DC, San Diego, and London—attract nearly half of all high-tech venture capital investment across the entire world.5 The rise of this winner-take-all urbanism creates a new kind of inequality between cities, with the economic gulf growing wider and wider between the winners and the much broader ranks of other cities that have lost their economic footing as a result of globalization, deindustrialization, and other factors. The second dimension is the crisis of success that vexes these same superstar cities. These winners face extraordinarily high and increasingly unaffordable housing prices and staggering levels of inequality. In these places, mere gentrification has escalated into what some have called “plutocratization.”6 Some of their most vibrant, innovative urban neighborhoods are turning into deadened trophy districts, where the global super-rich park their money in high-end housing investments as opposed to places in which to live. It’s not just musicians, artists, and creatives who are being pushed out: growing numbers of economically advantaged knowledge workers are seeing their money eaten up by high housing prices in these cities, and they have started to fear that their own children will never be able to afford the price of entry in them.

In just a three-block stretch of the Upper East Side, 57 percent of the apartments were vacant ten months a year.7 According to a growing number of commentators, cities like London, New York, and Paris are being overtaken by an invasion of the global super-rich. In 2013 and 2014, for example, foreign buyers (including residents and nonresidents of the city) purchased almost half of the £1 million–plus residences sold in prime central London locations. The increasingly ferocious competition for space in London’s poshest districts means that what we used to think of as gentrification is morphing into a new phase of plutocratization or “oligarchification.” According to a 2016 London School of Economics study, it is no longer just the poor and the working class who are being pushed out of the city’s upscale neighborhoods, but long-established elites and old-money families who are losing out and in some cases being driven out by much wealthier foreign buyers. No one is going to feel sorry for rich people who are selling their homes to wealthy foreigners for astronomical sums and humongous profits, especially in cities where inequality is reaching record levels, where working people can’t afford to live, and the poor are packed into areas of concentrated disadvantage.

No one is going to feel sorry for rich people who are selling their homes to wealthy foreigners for astronomical sums and humongous profits, especially in cities where inequality is reaching record levels, where working people can’t afford to live, and the poor are packed into areas of concentrated disadvantage. Still, it highlights the extent to which certain highly prized areas of superstar cities are being turned into gilded enclaves for a global plutocracy of largely absentee owners.8 It’s not just wealthy plutocrats who are buying into superstar cities. Giant corporations, real estate investment trusts, hedge funds, and sovereign wealth funds are investing huge amounts in real estate there as well. Global cities expert Saskia Sassen estimated that by 2015 corporations had accumulated more than $1 trillion in urban real estate. Many of the super-rich hide their identities behind shell companies, as a detailed New York Times investigation of just one hyper-luxury complex, the Time Warner Center, revealed.


pages: 324 words: 93,606

No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy by Linsey McGoey

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, American Legislative Exchange Council, bitcoin, Bob Geldof, cashless society, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, effective altruism, Etonian, financial innovation, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, germ theory of disease, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Mitch Kapor, Mont Pelerin Society, Naomi Klein, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school choice, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, urban planning, wealth creators

See also Kerry O’Halloran, The Profits of Charity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). CHAPTER TWO 1James Wallace and Jim Erickson, Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire (New York: HarperCollins, 1993). 2See Simon Atkinson, ‘Hedge Fund Hippies Have Trip Out’, BBC, 8 June 2006, news.bbc.co.uk. 3Quoted in Freeland, Plutocrats, 58. 4Simon Johnson, ‘The Quiet Coup’, The Atlantic, May 2009. 5Quoted in Freeland, Plutocrats, 67. 6Zoe Williams, ‘Philanthro-Capitalism May Sound Ugly, But It Could Be the Future’, Guardian, 30 March 2012. 7John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan, The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 3. 8Ibid., 12. 9Barry Malone, ‘We Got This, Bob Geldof, so Back Off’, Al Jazeera, 18 November 2014, aljazeera.com. 10Jeffrey Skoll, ‘Preface’, in Alex Nicholls, ed., Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), vi. 11Quoted in Nicholls, Social Entrepreneurship, 45. 12Roger Martin and Sally Osberg, ‘Social Entrepreneurship: The Case For Definition’, Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring 2007), 38. 13Ruth McCambridge, ‘Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation: Are They Potentially in Conflict?’

30Tristan Hopper, ‘York University Rejects RIM Co-founder Jim Balsillie’s $60-million Deal’, National Post, 3 April 2012. 31Freeland, Plutocrats, 14–15; see also Phillips, Wealth and Democracy, and Claudia Goldin and Robert Margo, ‘The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 107, no. 1 (1992), 1–34. 32Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (London: Penguin, 2013); see also James Galbraith, Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). Hacker’s comment is quoted in Judith Warner’s ‘The Charitable-Giving Divide’, New York Times, 20 April 2010. 33Freeland, Plutocrats, 246–7. 34David Futrelle, ‘Was Nick H. Hanauer’s TED Talk on Income Inequality too Rich for Rich People?’

He invested heavily in Graham’s work, at first through anonymous donations, then by openly bankrolling a number of Graham’s endeavours, including publications such as Christianity Today. Noted historian of US history Olivier Zunz suggests that Pew’s alliance with Graham was a canny political power play. It was a masterstroke enabling Pew ‘to advocate a political agenda as part of God’s design for America’.65 On the other side of the political spectrum, those on the left complained that foundations were elitist and plutocratic, serving mostly to rehabilitate the image of industrialists who earned their fortunes through predatory, often illegal actions. Large foundations such as the Carnegie, Ford, and today, the Gates Foundation, are often sole sources of income for smaller non-profit organizations. The power invested in foundations has led, as Dowie writes, to numerous complaints over the ‘secretive’, ‘rigid’, and ‘ideologically motivated’ nature of foundation funding processes.


pages: 459 words: 109,490

Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible by Stephen Braun, Douglas Farah

air freight, airport security, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, failed state, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, out of africa, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company

“Government assets, military assets, private assets, it was all being sold. The idea of minority rights, whether they were investors or Russian voters, were pretty much being trampled.” By the late 1990s, Wolosky had become an outspoken critic of the Russian political scene, worried that the plutocrats were hijacking the nation’s struggling economy and co-opting its political leaders. He took a fellowship at the Council of Foreign Relations and began drafting an article for Foreign Affairs, the council’s influential journal. Researching through early 1999, Wolosky aimed directly at Russia’s new president. In “Putin’s Plutocrat Problem,” Wolosky predicted bleakly that Putin would do little to fight the culture of corruption long tolerated by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin. “In the face of such venality,” Wolosky urged, the United States needed to withhold financial investment, treat Russia’s oil oligarchs “like pariahs,” and “vigorously prosecute” international cases of Russian organized crime and corruption.

An expert on Russian organized crime and political corruption, Wolosky quickly seized on the Bout operation as the quintessential symbol of the unforeseen perils of the new age—stateless rogue organizations that offered material support to any armed camp willing to pay for their services. Wolosky had worked in Moscow at the dawn of Russia’s chaotic experiment with capitalism, and had grown alarmed at the emergence of its powerful new class of plutocrats and gangsters. But Bout, Wolosky felt keenly, had risen beyond them, posing a clear and present international danger—more for his ability to carry things than for the things he carried. “Viktor Bout was a bigger problem than just moving weapons,” Wolosky said. “He had a logistics network, the best in the world.” Unable to rely on U.S. law because the Bout organization’s arms deliveries occurred outside American borders, Wolosky and Schneidman traveled repeatedly to Europe and Africa throughout 2000 and 2001, cajoling and pressuring friendly nations to join in their efforts to build a criminal case against Bout’s organization and track him down for arrest.

Everywhere you went, there was deterioration. It didn’t bode too well for instant democracy.” Wolosky returned to Harvard for two years of law school, then took up with a New York corporate law firm, handling mergers, acquisitions, and boardroom fights. He kept getting tugged back into Russian affairs, retained by big-money Western investors who had been burned in their dealings with Russia’s new generation of corporate plutocrats. In one case he represented American industrialist Kenneth Dart in a lawsuit against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the billionaire Russian banker who had taken over Yukos, the country’s largest oil company. Dart had complained that Khodorkovsky, the wealthiest man in Russia, had weakened his investments in Yukos subsidiaries by reorganizing the firm. A legal investigation discovered that Yukos shares controlled by Khodorkovsky had been scattered to distant offshore accounts, from Cyprus to the South Pacific island of Niue.


pages: 361 words: 81,068

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bob Geldof, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Metcalfe’s law, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer rental, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator

It’s a contemporaneous show, she argues, because there is a “profound similarity between the vast economic, social, and political changes that drive the action in ‘Downton Abbey’ and our own time.”65 In our digital age of perpetual creative destruction, Freeland says, technology companies like Google, Uber, and Facebook are, on the one hand, enabling the vast personal fortunes of twenty-first-century Internet plutocrats like Mark Zuckerberg and Travis Kalanick; and, on the other, wrecking the lives of a woman like Pam Wetherington, the nonunionized worker at Amazon’s Kentucky warehouse who was fired after suffering stress fractures in both feet after walking for miles on the warehouse’s concrete floor. But there is one important difference between Downton Abbey and Silicon Valley, Freeland reminds us. “With their lavish lifestyles, the aristocrats of ‘Downton Abbey’ may seem like a 20th-century version of our own plutocrats, but they are not,” she says, because today’s “aristocracy of talent” have “all the perks and few of the traditional values” of the old Downton Abbey aristocracy.”66 And so, in the Silicon Valley of 2014, there are all the social and economic hierarchies of 1914 without any of what Freeland calls “the social constraints” of the old aristocracy.

So much for those “decentralizing, globalizing, harmonizing and empowering” qualities that Nicholas Negroponte promised would be a “force of nature” of the digital age. Jeff Bezos would, of course, disagree, arguing, no doubt, that such a generalization is a narrative fallacy. But he’d be wrong. The real force of nature in the digital age is a winner-take-all economy that is creating increasingly monopolistic companies like Amazon and multibillionaire plutocrats like Bezos himself. The Code Is Cracked Despite the metaphysical promises of digital prophets like Nicholas Negroponte and Kevin Kelly, the early generation of Internet businesses in what is now called the “Web 1.0” age, such as Amazon, Netscape, Yahoo, and eBay, weren’t very innovative. Nobody has ever used terms like Amazonomics, Netscapenomics, or eBaynomics to compliment their business models; nobody has ever claimed that these companies had cracked the code on Internet profits.

But, you see, Spiegel’s minuscule app company—which, six months after rejecting Facebook’s $3 billion deal, was negotiating a new round of financing with the Chinese Internet giant Alibaba at a rumored $10 billion valuation49—isn’t really as tiny as it seems. Its “workers” actually include around 25% of all cell phone users in the United Kingdom and 50% of all cell phone users in Norway, who, according to Spiegel, “actively” use the Snapchat app.50 Data factories are eating the world. But while this has created a coterie of boy plutocrats like Evan Spiegel, Kevin Systrom, and Tumblr’s twenty-seven-year-old CEO, David Karp, it certainly isn’t making the rest of us rich. You see, for the labor we invest in adding intelligence to Google, or content to Facebook, or photos to Snapchat, we are paid zero. Nothing at all, except the right to use the software for free. “It wasn’t always like this,” TechCrunch reports about our new data factory economy.


pages: 362 words: 83,464

The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bob Noyce, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, energy security, falling living standards, future of work, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, McJob, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Buchheit, payday loans, Peter Calthorpe, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Rather than concentrate simplistically on the rise of the “one percent,” it is more useful to focus on the differences, sometimes subtle, between this Oligarchy and those that preceded them. This takes our discussion beyond the conventional, often hackneyed analysis of the distribution of wealth and instead focuses on significant changes within the upper classes. For one thing, the tech Oligarchs’ relationship to the general population, as both consumers and workers, diverges from that of traditional plutocrats. In the last century, many old-line industries, particularly larger firms, were forced to deal with their employees and their demands, often in the form of union agreements. As a result, whether unionized or not, large American firms that developed in the early and mid-twentieth century tended to be “very broad at the base and uncomfortably pointed at the top,” as one commentator observed. The old plutocracy—the oil barons, the heads of major manufacturing firms, the owners of major utilities—may have been reactionary in many of their views, but their operations depended heavily on middle- and working-class people, both as employees and as consumers.25 The new Oligarchs, although they also depend on mass consumerism, base their fortunes primarily on the sale of essentially ephemeral goods: media, advertising, and entertainment.

Whether we are discussing then or now, it is critical to understand that the wealthy are not disinterested observers. They tend to push politics in a direction amenable to both their interests and their personal tastes. The railroad tycoons, who famously controlled most legislatures and much of the Senate during the post–Civil War expansion, believed they should control the direction of the country, adhering to what one lobbyist called “the politics of business.” As one plutocrat said with amazing candor: “We are the rich; we own America; we got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it.”37 The new Oligarchy, and their allies in the Clerisy, are more subtle in their pronouncements. Nor should their efforts be dismissed as largely conspiratorial, or even malicious in intent. But throughout history, classes maintain a common interest in protecting and expanding their superior status, often at the expense, albeit unwittingly, of the lower orders.

The Bay Area, particularly the Silicon Valley–San Francisco corridor, has become one of the most solidly and reliably liberal regions in the country, with leading tech companies sending four-fifths of their contributions to Democratic candidates.101 Along with the public sector, they present California as “the spiritual inspiration” for modern “progressives”—that is, reliable backers of President Obama and the mainstream Democratic Party—across the country.102 Energy and the environment represent arguably the most critical part of the tech political agenda. In their embrace of a strong opposition to fossil fuels, the Oligarchs are facing off against some of the nation’s most powerful, long-established plutocratic interests and wealthiest individuals. This assault on traditional energy reflects in part the relative lack of sensitivity by many tech firms to high electricity prices. If California electricity is too unreliable or expensive, firms such as Google or Yahoo can shift their power-consuming server farms to places with cheap electricity, such as the Pacific Northwest, Utah, or the Great Plains.103 Some of this shift is also driven by legitimate concerns about climate change.


pages: 312 words: 91,835

Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization by Branko Milanovic

"Robert Solow", Asian financial crisis, assortative mating, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, means of production, mittelstand, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, Paul Samuelson, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, post-industrial society, profit motive, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, Second Machine Age, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, stakhanovite, trade route, transfer pricing, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce

. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2015043601 Subjects: LCSH: Equality. | Income distribution. | Globalization—Social aspects. | Globalization—Economic aspects. Classification: LCC HM821 .M555 2016 | DDC 305—dc23 LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2015043601 Contents Acknowledgments Introduction 1. The Rise of the Global Middle Class and Global Plutocrats 2. Inequality within Countries Introducing Kuznets Waves to Explain Long-Term Trends in Inequality 3. Inequality among Countries From Karl Marx to Frantz Fanon, and Then Back to Marx? 4. Global Inequality in This Century and the Next 5. What Next? Ten Short Reflections on the Future of Income Inequality and Globalization Notes References Index Acknowledgments This book is the product of years of work on income inequality in general and, more specifically, on global income inequality.

Thus, to give an example, “we” (that is, economists working on inequality) might think that the Kuznets hypothesis has been discredited by its inability to forecast the recent rise of income inequality in rich countries, but “I” have attempted to redefine it and reformulate it here in such a way that, in the future, “we” may change our opinion about the usefulness of the hypothesis. Yet there is a long way to go before this “I” becomes a “we.” I offer now to the reader the duty—or the pleasure—of taking the first step on the road to the study of global inequality, and perhaps ultimately to global governance, and the world as one. 1 The Rise of the Global Middle Class and Global Plutocrats Intercourse between nations spans the whole globe to such an extent that one may almost say all the world is but a single city in which a permanent fair comprising all commodities is held, so that by means of money all the things produced by the land, animals and human industry can be acquired and enjoyed by any person in his own home. —GEMINIANO MONTANARI (1683) Who Has Gained from Globalization?

The United States dominates there: half of the people in the global top 1 percent are American. (This means that approximately 12 percent of Americans are part of the global top 1 percent.)6 The rest are almost entirely from Western Europe, Japan, and Oceania. Of the remainder, Brazil, South Africa, and Russia each contribute 1 percent of their populations. We can call those in group C the “global plutocrats.” Comparison of groups B and C allows us to address another important cleavage. We have seen that group B, with zero or negligible gains from globalization, consists mainly of the lower middle class and the poorer segments of the rich countries’ populations. In contrast, group C, the winners of globalization, consists of the richer classes from these same countries. An obvious implication is that the income gaps between the top and bottom have widened in the rich world, and that globalization has favored those in the rich countries who were already better-off.


pages: 124 words: 39,011

Beyond Outrage: Expanded Edition: What Has Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It by Robert B. Reich

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, banking crisis, business cycle, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, job automation, Mahatma Gandhi, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, Nelson Mandela, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, single-payer health, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

And that cynicism has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as nothing gets solved. Connect these dots and you understand why we’ve come to where we are. We’re in a vicious cycle. Our economy and our democracy depend on it being reversed. The well-being of your children and grandchildren requires it. In Part One, I describe how the game is becoming rigged against average working people and in favor of wealthy plutocrats and large corporations. In Part Two, I explain the rise of the regressive right, a movement designed not to conserve what we have but to take America backward toward the social Darwinist ideas that prevailed in the late nineteenth century. In Part Three, I suggest what you can do to reverse this perilous course. Part One The Rigged Game I receive many e-mails from people who have read my columns or who have seen me in the media.

“Big government” isn’t the problem. The problem is the big money that’s taking over government. Government is doing fewer of the things most of us want it to do—providing good public schools and affordable access to college, improving our roads and bridges and water systems, maintaining safety nets to catch people who fall, and protecting the public from dangers—and more of the things big corporations, Wall Street, and wealthy plutocrats want it to do. Some conservatives argue, like my composite e-mail correspondent, that we wouldn’t have to worry about big money taking over government if we had a smaller government to begin with. They say the reason big money is swamping our democracy is that a large government attracts big money. When I debated with Congressman Paul Ryan on ABC-TV’s This Week, he said that “if the power and money are going to be here in Washington, that’s where the influence is going to go … that’s where the powerful are going to go to influence it.”

Eccles, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, described in the 1920s, when people “with great economic power had an undue influence in making the rules of the economic game.” With hefty campaign contributions and platoons of lobbyists and public relations spinners, America’s executive class has secured lower tax rates while resisting reforms that would spread the gains from growth to more Americans. But it’s unlikely that the plutocrats can retain their political clout forever. So many people have been hit by job losses, sagging incomes, and declining home values that Americans will eventually become mobilized. The question is not whether but when. Perhaps the Occupier movement marks the beginning. Americans have summoned the political will to take back our economy before, in even bleaker times. As the historian James Truslow Adams defined the American dream when he coined the term at the depths of the Great Depression, what we seek is “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man.”


Big Bucks: The Explosion of the Art Market in the 21st Century by Adam, Georgina(Author)

BRICs, Frank Gehry, greed is good, high net worth, inventory management, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, upwardly mobile

Keeping abreast of what is happening is a full-time job, demanding constant travel between fairs, biennales and auctions. ‘Clients don’t have time to hit the ground as much as I do,’ says the New York advisor Lisa Schiff, adding: ‘If you have a good advisor, they will help you sift through the machinations of the art world!’113 Couple this with the changing profile of collectors: ‘The rich of today are . . . different from the rich of yesterday,’ points out Chrystia Freeland in her book Plutocrats.114 Their wealth is, she says, ‘to a notable degree’ first or second generation. These extremely wealthy people are so busy making money that they do not have time to run around a globalized art world. The sheer amount of art on offer, artists to see, shows to attend and fairs to trawl through means that they delegate the buying to a trusted advisor. This is not the only thing the very rich 93 the players outsource: they use advisors for all aspects of their lives, from picking a cosmetic surgeon to decorating their homes.

Potter, New York, 1984. 66 Judd Tully, ‘The ascent of Gerhard Richter: Charting the German painter’s rise from cool outsider to auction rockstar’, Blouin Artinfo, 6 January 2012, http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/806758/theascent-of-gerhard-richter-charting-the-german-painters-rise-from-cooloutsider-to-auction-rockstar. 67 This was offered by White Cube in 2007 for a published price of $100 million and ‘bought’ by a consortium that included Hirst himself, his financial advisor Frank Dumphy and dealer Jay Jopling as well the 188 Notes 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 Ukrainian collector Victor Pinchuk. The Art Newspaper, December 2010, p.9. There have been multiple studies and books on the subject of the growing wealth divide. Two are: Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality, W.W. Norton, New York, 2012, and Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 2012. The Art Newspaper, March 2013, p.3. This and further quotes from Michael Short: interview with the author, April 2013. Talking Galleries symposium, Barcelona, September 2012. Paul Maenz closed his Berlin gallery in 1990. ‘The Forbes Five: Hip-hop’s wealthiest artists 2013’, Forbes, 27 March 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2013/03/27/ the-forbes-five-hip-hops-wealthiest-artists-2013.

_r=2&oref=slogin&. 92 Thomas Seydoux, interview with the author, March 2013. 93 Daniel Hernandez, ‘Art Market doldrums exhibited at Mexico’s city annual bazaar’, New York Times, 12 April 2013, http://articles.latimes. com/2013/apr/12/world/la-fg-wn-mexico-city-art-bazaar-20130411. 94 ‘China has 3589 museums nationwide’, Xinhuanet, 26 December 2012, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-12/26/c_132064306.htm. 95 Silvia Anna Barrilá and others, BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors, Hatje Cantz, Ostfilderne, 2013. 96 Dalya Alberge, ‘Art collectors build museums to let public see private hoards’, Observer, 11 July 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/ artanddesign/2010/jul/11/modern-art-collectors-private-museum. 97 Lucien Karpik, Valuing the Unique: The Economics of Singularities, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2010, p.101. 98 The Art Newspaper, October 2011, pp 50–51. 99 This and further quotes from Allan Schwartzman: conversation with the author, November 2013. 100 Anonymous, interview with the author, November 2013. 190 Notes 101 The Art Newspaper, November 2011, p.28. 102 This and further quotes from Robert Holden: conversation with the author, February 2013. 103 Thompson, The $12 million Stuffed Shark, p.259. 104 Letters, ‘Why the art world needs to rise up against curators’, Guardian, 3 September 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/ artanddesign/2013/sep/23/art-world-rise-up-curators. 105 Interview with the author, October 2013. 106 ‘The Trouble with Curating’, 9 December 2010. 107 Melissa Milgrom, ‘Behind the scenes; independent curators; have art will travel’, New York Times, 24 April 2004, http://www.nytimes. com/2002/04/24/arts/behind-the-scenes-independent-curators-haveart-will-travel.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm. 108 Interview with the author, September 2013. 109 Interview with the author, October 2013. 110 Interview with the author, October 2013. 111 Anonymous, interview with the author, May 2013. 112 Thompson, The $12 million Stuffed Shark, p.53. 113 This and further quotations: conversation with the author, October 2013. 114 Freeland, Plutocrats, p.4. 115 Perrotin has denied to me on a number of occasions that he gave his pass, saying he was the ‘fall guy’ for other dealers who had done the same thing. 116 Anonymous, conversation with the author, 2011. 117 Conversation with the author, Art Basel, 2011. 118 Kenny Schachter, ‘Further adventures in the Wade Guyton Market’, Gallerist, 22 October 2013, http://galleristny.com/2013/10/ further-adventures-in-the-wade-guyton-market. 119 Conversation with the author, September 2013. 120 Thomas Seydoux, interview with the author, March 2013. 121 Thompson, The $12m Stuffed Shark, p.186. 122 Isabelle Graw, High Price – Art Between the Art Market and Celebrity Culture, Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2009, p.73. 123 Maria Lind and Olav Velthuis (eds.), Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios, Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2012, pp 118–19. 191 big bucks 124 Skate’s Art Market Research, ‘2012 Annual Investment Report Part 2’, Skate’s, February 2013, http://skatesart.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/ skates-annual-art-investment-report-2012-part-2.pdf, p.11. 125 Interview with the author, 2013. 126 Anonymous, interview with the author, February 2013. 127 Conversation with the author, March 2013. 128 ‘The Art Basel effect: How the fair has impacted Miami’s economy’, AFA News, 30 November 2011, http://www.afanews.com/home/ item/1095-the-art-basel-effect-how-the-fair-has-impacted-miami per centE2 per cent80 per cent99s-economy#.UcLO8PmTjKA. 129 Interview with the author, February 2013. 130 Conversation with the author, December 2013. 131 Anonymous, conversation with the author, May 2013. 132 Adam Lindemann, ‘Occupy Art Basel Miami Beach now!’


pages: 427 words: 112,549

Freedom by Daniel Suarez

augmented reality, big-box store, British Empire, Burning Man, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, corporate personhood, digital map, game design, global supply chain, illegal immigration, Naomi Klein, new economy, Pearl River Delta, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, RFID, special economic zone, speech recognition, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, the scientific method, young professional

They're going to use it as a means to control people--just like Sobol did. Only this time, for their personal benefit." "Nat--" "Even if we stop their plan, they'll still seize control of the Daemon." The music in the background didn't match the grimness of their predicament. Ross gazed at the distant party. "The plutocrat's ball." She nodded. "Celebrating their victory." Philips turned to see Ross come up alongside her and put a hand on her shoulder. She shook her head. "I gave it to them, Jon. We cracked Sobol's code, and I gave it to the plutocrats. The same API they'll use as a weapon against the world. How many generations will be reduced to slavery because of me?" "You couldn't have known." "I'm supposed to be able to find the real message in the noise, Jon. That was my gift." "You had faith in democracy, Natalie. There's nothing wrong with that."

There are two dozen darknet factions on his heels. Once Loki's army is gathered, this whole place will be a war zone." "The Loki?" She sat on the arm of a nearby sofa and shook her head. "I can't leave, Jon." "Why not? This isn't your--" "Look, you have no idea how happy I am to see you, and I can't tell you how much it touches me that you risked your life to rescue me. But I can't go. The plutocrats are planning to execute some sort of cyber warfare attack. Physically storming this ranch won't stop it. I need to figure out what they're really up to and stop them. Luckily, I have some clues." She brought him over to a huge stack of documents on a nearby desk. "They've given me tech documentation on Operation Exorcist--but something about it doesn't make sense." "Operation Exorcist?" "Yes.

He had formed hundreds of razorbacks into a ring around the main house, where the international financiers with their wives and children had barricaded the ornate doors. Loki appeared to be sensing the world through the eyes of his numberless minions, through their sensors, scouring every inch of this place, every culvert--searching for people in hiding. He seemed ready to tear down every brick of the place until he found The Major. And in the process was apparently going to kill every one of the plutocrats who cowered in the massive house--along with their trophy wives and their pampered offspring. Loki seemed ready to make them all pay. Sebeck watched a video feed even now when a group of bankers tried to escape to the airfield to board their private jet and resume their lives as if this never happened. But Loki's distant razorbacks were shown forcing their Bentley off the road, dragging out the screaming occupants, and . . .


pages: 550 words: 89,316

The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

assortative mating, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discrete time, disruptive innovation, Downton Abbey, East Village, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, income inequality, iterative process, knowledge economy, longitudinal study, Mason jar, means of production, NetJets, new economy, New Urbanism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, post-industrial society, profit maximization, Richard Florida, selection bias, Silicon Valley, The Design of Experiments, the High Line, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, the market place, Thorstein Veblen, Tony Hsieh, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, Veblen good, women in the workforce

Thus the rise of an economy dependent on innovation and knowledge is also one dependent on professional skills, many of which are acquired through education. Mobility into the top echelon of the new world order is reliant on acquisition of knowledge, not birthright, not property held for generations, and not, sadly for many, loyalty to one’s work institution. But these new elites are not simply members of an economic group tied to one another by their financial success. They are not plutocrats or necessarily on top of the economic pyramid. Many who have acquired education and prize knowledge are indeed affluent labor market elites, but plenty are not. For this new class of people, knowledge is prized independently of its economic function. For bankers, lawyers, or engineers in this group, their education and specialized knowledge have enabled them to attain upward mobility in the world economy.

There is no longer a dominant leisure class; in its place the aspirational class is rewriting the patterns of consumption while simultaneously disengaging in conventional material conspicuous consumption. They reveal their social position through much more subtle behaviors and goods that are not necessarily expensive but imply a rich cultural and social capital relegated to aspirational class membership. The members of the aspirational class are not the villains of Wall Street, Russian oligarchs buying up London and Manhattan, they are not plutocrats on private jets. They are no leisure class. Not all of them make enormous amounts of money, but they are educated and they prize knowledge and engage in consumer practices that reflect these values and cultural capital. Yet, these positive attributes may make the aspirational class even more pernicious than the superrich who are vilified in the media or the leisure class of the nineteenth century.

Through this reproduction of cultural capital and its trappings we see the emergence of what Charles Murray has called the “New Upper Class” and “New Lower Class,” which is not simply an economic divide, but is also a deep cultural divide that has never existed with such distinction as it does today.7 Even the cultural differences around the more nebulous norms of mothering, knowledge, and environmental consciousness are underpinned by economic position, and these symbolic boundaries are far from costless. What is most concerning about today’s elites is that behaviors that appear to be moral or value-laden choices are deeply embedded in socioeconomic position and many of these decisions are quotidian, not grand material signifiers. In fact, the media’s obsession with financial elites, oligarchs, and plutocrats’ extravagant lifestyles distracts from some of our far more pressing issues of cultural, social, and economic stratification. The lives of the superrich may be interesting, but these people have always existed and they do not make a significant impact on most of our lives. But the aspirational class, many of whom exist in the top 1%, 5%, and 10% income brackets, are a much larger force. Their decisions and investments, which are increasingly inconspicuous, reproduce wealth and upward mobility in a way that leaves out the middle class in detrimental ways.


pages: 334 words: 82,041

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature by George Monbiot

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Attenborough, dematerialisation, demographic transition, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, first-past-the-post, full employment, Gini coefficient, hedonic treadmill, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, land reform, land value tax, market fundamentalism, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, peak oil, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, rent-seeking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, urban sprawl, wealth creators, World Values Survey

Rockefeller and Thomas Edison financed the publication of Herbert Spencer’s works in the late nineteenth century,2 which argued, among other propositions, that millionaires stand at the top of a scala natura established by natural selection, with which we would be foolish to interfere, and that profound economic inequalities are both natural and necessary, global oligarchs have invested heavily in the infrastructure of persuasion. The newspapers they own and the think tanks they fund seek the best minds money can buy to produce brilliant and persuasive arguments in defence of the elite. For every independent voice with a national platform, there are one hundred working on behalf of plutocratic power. Of course, this role is not specified in their contracts. I doubt that many people ask themselves before writing a column or a position paper, ‘How can I best serve the interests of my billionaire proprietor today?’ But it does not take long to discover which positions and arguments secure your advancement, and which compromise it. In the media, proprietors appoint editors in their own image; editors tend to hire and promote the journalists whose views they find congenial.

Think of how different political environments create radically different health systems – and health outcomes – in countries with comparable levels of economic activity. When captured by certain ideologies, most forms of productivity and genius, which could otherwise be harnessed for good, can be mobilised to harm. The social utility of the more obviously productive professions is dependent on the ideological framework in which they operate, a framework shaped by competing voices. Voices that are independent of plutocratic power, that are able to articulate interests and perspectives at variance with its demands, are among the few means by which its capture of productive activity might be impeded. This is not to suggest that essayists and pundits, journalists and commentators, however independent and persuasive they may be, can change the world by themselves. Progressive change requires mass mobilisation. But, by identifying and challenging power, by discovering its failings and proposing alternatives, by showing the world as it is rather than as the apparatus of justification would wish people to see it, we can, I believe, play a helpful part in this mobilisation, alongside politicians, protesters, social entrepreneurs, pressure groups and a host of other agents of change.

In the US Congress, for the first time, a majority of members are millionaires.4 As the representatives become richer, the laws they pass ensure that they exercise ever less power over the rich and ever more power over the poor. Yet, as the Center for Responsive Politics notes, ‘There’s been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington.’5 We appear to possess an almost limitless ability to sit back and watch as political life is seized by plutocrats, as the biosphere is trashed, as public services are killed or given to corporations, as workers are dragooned into zero-hour contracts. Though there are a few wonderful exceptions, on the whole protest is muted and alternatives are shrugged away without examination. How did we acquire this superhuman passivity? The question is not confined to politics. Almost universally we now seem content to lead a proxy life, a counter-life, of vicarious, illusory relationships, of second-hand pleasures, of atomisation without individuation.


pages: 471 words: 127,852

Londongrad: From Russia With Cash; The Inside Story of the Oligarchs by Mark Hollingsworth, Stewart Lansley

Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Geldof, business intelligence, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, crony capitalism, Donald Trump, energy security, Etonian, F. W. de Klerk, income inequality, kremlinology, mass immigration, mega-rich, Mikhail Gorbachev, offshore financial centre, paper trading, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Sloane Ranger

He would not review the privatizations but they would no longer enjoy special privileges inside the Kremlin. During the meeting, Putin insisted that Potanin pay the $140 million he was alleged to owe on the purchase of Norilsk Nickel. At times the meeting became heated and at one stage the President pointed at a well-known tycoon and accused him of being guilty of ‘oligophrenia’ (which means ‘mental retardation’). The plutocrats were stunned. It was not the script they had been expecting. The new confrontational President concluded the meeting - which lasted two hours and forty minutes - by setting up a permanent mechanism for consultations between businessmen and the state. The days of cliques and coteries were gone, he warned. Now the relationship was to be institutionalized. Access to Putin would be restricted through quarterly meetings with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs - in effect, the oligarchs’ trade union.

In another British/Russian liaison, fashionistas have also been intrigued by the relationship between another supermodel, Naomi Campbell, and the Russian billionaire Vladimir Doronin, a property magnate with a towering ego who has been called Moscow’s version of Donald Trump. Doronin was educated in St Petersburg, the home city of Russia’s former and current presidents, Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev. A close friend of the present Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, and his wife Yelena Baturina (at the last count, Russia’s only female dollar billionaire), Doronin is another plutocrat who likes to ensure that he keeps in with the political in-crowd. He made his first money as a raw cotton distributor in the former Soviet republics of Tajikstan and Uzbekistan and in 1993 set up Capital Group, a Moscow-based property company specializing in ‘luxury design property projects’, among them grandiose 100-apartment high-risers, Yacht City (a development on the Moscow River), and elite housing at Barvikha Hills, which is close to the Kremlin.

A startled Abramovich pulled away and put his hands in his pockets, allowing the envelope to fall to the ground.3 ‘I think that he’d been watching too much television, because he seemed to think that if he didn’t have physical contact with it then the writ would not be served,’ said a Berezovsky aide.4 This extraordinary showdown was captured on Hermès’ CCTV and was later used in court as evidence in the case. It was a clear illustration of how the raw business methods of many of the new plutocrats - built on litigation, distrust, and security - had spilt over into the heartland of Londongrad. The ‘writ’ stemmed from 2001 when Berezovsky claimed that he had been ‘induced’ into selling valuable shares in two companies they jointly owned - the oil and metal giant Sibneft and the aluminium combine Rusal - to Abramovich at knockdown prices. The exiled oligarch was claiming damages of ‘$4.3 billion arising out of allegedly wrongful actions committed by Mr Abramovich.’


pages: 319 words: 75,257

Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy by David Frum

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-globalists, Bernie Sanders, centre right, coronavirus, currency manipulation / currency intervention, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, employer provided health coverage, illegal immigration, immigration reform, labor-force participation, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nate Silver, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, QAnon, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley

As recently as January 2019, the Trump Office of Management and Budget promised that the Trump tax cut would not push the budget deficit beyond $1 trillion until fiscal year 2022. By August 2019, OMB had to concede that the deficit would exceed $1 trillion in the fiscal year that would begin October 1, 2019. Deficits are taxes postponed. They will eventually be repaid one way or another. Repaid how? And by whom? The interoperation of an increasingly dysfunctional democracy with an increasingly plutocratic economy implies that taxes avoided in the present by those best able to pay will be repaid in the future by the least able. It’s a grim formula and one that should badly cost this administration at the polls. But every election asks the inescapable question: Compared to what? Chapter Seven How to Lose to Trump Heading into the election of 1980, Republicans faced a dangerous dilemma.

The question is: Where to draw the line? Even politicians have rights to privacy—and so do their spouses. The tightest rule is that several years of returns—three?—be published on the date that a person accepts a major-party nomination for president; and that annual publication by a president be compulsory. Financial disclosure rules also need to be revised for modern times. The present rules were drafted in a less plutocratic era, to cast light on the finances of affluent professionals and successful business executives. They are utterly defeated by the network of trusts and closely held corporations in which the modern rich stash their assets—and, maybe even more important when those rich enter politics, their debts. At the same time—and this disclosure may prove even more important in the long run to the integrity of the US economy—America’s experience with the Trump Organization demonstrates why more needs to be done to ensure that the government always knows who owns which assets, not only financial assets but real estate assets too.

Trump hoped he could use the even bigger surge of the first half of 2019—and his militant fight to repulse that surge—as his best argument for reelection in 2020. To defeat Trump and to prevent new Trumps, the United States (and other advanced societies, too) must control their borders and strengthen their nationality and their social-insurance systems to foster the sense of belonging that has ebbed away as our societies become more diverse, more interconnected, more plutocratic. I get the merits of the case for covering the ten million or so illegal residents of the United States. The majority of those people have resided in the United States for more than a decade.23 What is to happen when those people get sick? Even more awkwardly: What is to happen when they grow old? Are we really to contemplate a future in which millions and millions of elderly US residents will be shrugged off in illness or frailty because they entered the country illegally back when Bill Clinton was president?


pages: 505 words: 133,661

Who Owns England?: How We Lost Our Green and Pleasant Land, and How to Take It Back by Guy Shrubsole

back-to-the-land, Beeching cuts, Boris Johnson, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, congestion charging, deindustrialization, digital map, do-ocracy, Downton Abbey, financial deregulation, fixed income, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Earth, housing crisis, James Dyson, Kickstarter, land reform, land tenure, land value tax, linked data, loadsamoney, mega-rich, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, openstreetmap, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, urban sprawl, web of trust, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Professor Chris Hamnett likens it to water pouring into a three-bowl fountain: the money gushes into the super-prime districts first, but it soon overflows, raising house prices in surrounding districts. ‘People are being sequentially displaced,’ he warns. Empty mansions are just one, particularly glaring symbol of the increasingly free market in land and property in England, and how the country is being transformed by successive waves of new money. So who are the new plutocrats investing in England’s land and property? And what do they own? My definition of ‘new money’ in this chapter refers to a group of individuals who have acquired wealth and land since the Industrial Revolution – whether through industry, finance, oil, the entertainment business, or other riches. It’s clear that this covers a broad spread of individuals – businessmen and women, City boys, celebrities – many of whom have little in common by way of shared background or interests.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union came a third wave: an invasion of Russian oligarchs, arriving to spend the wealth they had filleted from former state industries and, in some cases, to escape Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Thatcher and her followers unleashed a fourth wave of home-grown buccaneering businessmen, who went on to spend their earnings on lavish mansions and country estates. But it was the Edwardian plutocrats who got the whole ball rolling. Fin-de-siècle England was a playground for the rich, both old and new: a gilded age of imperial complacency and vast inequality. It was a world in which parvenu industrialists rubbed shoulders with the landed gentry; where loaded American heiresses married into old English families, swapping cash for coronets; and where society portrait artists like John Singer Sargent flattered the upper classes with their paintings, the oil on their canvases oozing opulence.

Edmund Hoyle Vestey hardly helped public relations by shrugging: ‘Nobody pays more tax than they have to. We’re all tax dodgers, aren’t we?’ Few contemporaries of the Vesteys were as tenacious at avoiding the taxman, but other self-made men followed their lead in acquiring land and titles, and setting up trusts to manage their landed estates. The plush red benches of the House of Lords began to fill up with plutocratic peers who had made their money in shipping, chemical manufacturing and banking. The era also saw the creation of the first literal press barons, such as Baron Iliffe, part-owner of the Daily Telegraph in the inter-war years, whose 8,000-acre Yattendon estate in West Berkshire I traversed in an earlier chapter. The soap magnate William Lever, whose businesses went on to become the conglomerate Unilever, was ennobled as Viscount Leverhulme and bought himself the 11,000-acre Thornhill Manor estate on the Wirral, a huge expanse of the Scottish Highlands at Badanloch in Sutherland, and the Hebridean islands of Lewis and Harris.


pages: 181 words: 50,196

The Rich and the Rest of Us by Tavis Smiley

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Buckminster Fuller, Corrections Corporation of America, Credit Default Swap, death of newspapers, deindustrialization, ending welfare as we know it, F. W. de Klerk, fixed income, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, income inequality, job automation, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, mega-rich, Nelson Mandela, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, traffic fines, trickle-down economics, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor

It’s no accident that the loudest voices that profit so handsomely from attacking the poor by denying the severity of their circumstances tend to be politicians, pundits, and think tanks aligned with and funded by corporate plutocrats and Wall Street oligarchs. America’s elite understands that today’s poor are a potential powerhouse. They are multicultural, multiracial, and multigenerational and come from a variety of backgrounds. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all poverty in America. If the 50 million poor ever reached consensus about the roots of their suffering, the plutocratic apple cart would be upended permanently. This is why ignoring, denying, and dismissing the poor has become a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Who’s Boiling the Tea? “The Founding Fathers originally said … they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote.

Now, Moore continued, “The system says ‘we’re taking that away from you.’ Well, now there’s hell to pay.” “They went after them, they went after their homes. They moved their jobs overseas. They took their healthcare away. They made it so that their children would be the first generation in the history of this country who would be worse off than their parents’ generation.” America’s elite, like dictators and plutocrats in the Arab world, also fell victim to outdated 20th-century thinking. For decades, the rich and the powerful controlled how their countries and regimes were projected around the world. These regimes were unprepared for uprisings fueled by advancing technologies’ upstart and uncontrollable offspring—social media. It was Facebook postings, Twitter tweets, and other technological tools that engaged the world and legitimized the revolts in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and elsewhere.


pages: 285 words: 86,174

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, carried interest, circulation of elites, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, Gunnar Myrdal, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kenneth Arrow, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, mass incarceration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rolodex, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, Vilfredo Pareto, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

They are snobby cosmopolitans who look down on the ordinary Americans who unpretentiously and earnestly devote themselves to the bedrock virtues of faith, family, and flag. That’s why Dick Armey, a multimillionaire former House majority leader and erstwhile lobbyist at DLA Piper, one of Washington’s premier influence-peddling firms, can castigate “elites” and the “establishment” as if he were a scruffy newsie with his nose pressed up against the glass watching the plutocrats from outside. Through sheer overdeployment, conservatives have rendered the word “elite” nearly unusable. We now find ourselves in agreement that “the elite” have been discredited, but we can’t quite figure out exactly who they are. We’ve seen how the contagion of distrust spreads out to infect any and all institutions and people that are plausibly associated with the elite. So if “pointy-headed intellectuals” who spend their days in quiet anonymity running climate models count as members of the elite, we end up with the perverse situation of the world’s most powerful energy companies marshaling anti-elitist sentiment to keep their profits intact and the atmosphere polluted.

In order to actually effect deep and lasting change, those opposed to the current social order must locate another base of power that can credibly challenge the power of incumbent interests. I think the answer lies in a newly radicalized upper middle class. One of the most interesting features of our current political moment is that a significant gulf has opened up between, roughly, the top 40 percent and the top 1 percent, between the middle class, upper middle class, professionals, and the mass affluent and the genuine plutocrats. In fact, the two most energetic and important political movements of the aughts draw their popular constituency from the upper middle class: people with graduate school degrees, homes, second homes, kids in good colleges, and six-figure incomes. This frustrated, discontented class has spent a decade with their noses pressed against the glass, watching the winners grab more and more for themselves, seemingly at the upper middle class’s expense.

As my father, a community organizer, once told me, the most difficult task an organizer faces when organizing the poor or working class is convincing people that they are entitled to something better, that they can assert their own claims and have them be taken seriously. America’s upper middle class needs no such provocation. The most militant and effective political mobilizations of our last decade were, for the most part, upper-middle-class uprisings (often partially bankrolled, it should be noted, by plutocrats), and while they were occasioned by a litany of specific triggers—the Iraq War, the deception of the Bush administration, the financial crisis, and the gently liberal agenda of the new Democratic president—they gained their momentum from their specific class origins. The resonance of their complaints is echoed by Tea Party activist Terri Hall: that the game is rigged. The Others, whether they be the “losers” that CNBC host Rick Santelli ranted about, who didn’t pay their mortgages, or the bank CEOs and Halliburton and Blackwater executives, have unshackled themselves from the rules that bind everyone else.


pages: 187 words: 58,839

Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton

hiring and firing, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, means of production, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen

Once jobs and rewards began to be handed out on the basis of dispassionate interviews and examinations, it could no longer be argued that worldly position was wholly divorced from inner qualities, as many Christian thinkers had proposed, nor could it be claimed that the wealthy and powerful must a priori have attained their station through corrupt means, as Rousseau and Marx had suggested. Once the partridge shooters had been ejected from the Civil Service and replaced with the intelligent offspring of the working classes, once the SATs had emptied Ivy League universities of the witless sons and daughters of East Coast plutocrats and filled them instead with the hardworking children of shop owners, it became harder to maintain that status was the result entirely of a rigged system. Faith in an increasingly reliable connection between merit and worldly success in turn endowed money with a new moral quality. When riches were still being handed down the generations according to bloodlines and connections, it was natural to dismiss the notion that wealth was an indicator of any virtue besides that of having been born to the right parents.

Nevertheless, when regarded not separately, but in connection with the interests of universal humanity, these harsh fatalities are seen to be full of beneficence—the same beneficence which brings to early graves the children of diseased parents… . Under the natural order of things society is constantly excreting its unhealthy, imbecile, slow, vacillating, faithless members. If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well that they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die.” Such doctrines found a receptive audience among the self-made plutocrats who dominated American business and the American media. Social Darwinism provided them with an apparently unassailable scientific argument with which to rebut entities and isms that many of them were already suspicious of, not to mention threatened by on the economic level: trade unions, Marxism and socialism. On a triumphant tour of America in 1882, Spencer was cheered by gatherings of business leaders, who were flattered at being compared to the alpha beasts of the human jungle and relieved to be absolved of any need to feel guilty about or charitable towards their weaker brethren.

The history of art is filled with challenges—ironic, angry, lyrical, sad or amusing—to the status system. Art and Snobbery 1. Jane Austen began writing Mansfield Park in the spring of 1811 and published it three years later. The novel tells the story of Fanny Price, a shy, modest young girl from a penniless family in Portsmouth, who, in order to relieve her parents of some of their burden, agrees to go and live with her aunt and uncle, the plutocratic Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, at Mansfield Park, their stately home. Standing at the pinnacle of the English county hierarchy, the Bertrams are spoken of with awe and reverence by their neighbours. Their two daughters, Maria and Julia, are coquettish teenagers who enjoy a generous clothes allowance and have their own horses; their eldest son, Tom, is a bumptious and casually insensitive lout who spends most of his time in London clubs, lubricating his friendships with champagne while focusing his hopes for the future on his father’s death and the inheritance of the paternal estate and title.


pages: 327 words: 90,542

The Age of Stagnation: Why Perpetual Growth Is Unattainable and the Global Economy Is in Peril by Satyajit Das

"Robert Solow", 9 dash line, accounting loophole / creative accounting, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collaborative economy, colonial exploitation, computer age, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Downton Abbey, Emanuel Derman, energy security, energy transition, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial repression, forward guidance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, happiness index / gross national happiness, Honoré de Balzac, hydraulic fracturing, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, informal economy, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, margin call, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, old age dependency ratio, open economy, passive income, peak oil, peer-to-peer lending, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, precariat, price stability, profit maximization, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Rana Plaza, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, risk/return, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, savings glut, secular stagnation, seigniorage, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, the market place, the payments system, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade route, transaction costs, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

However, there are suggestions that the statement was not made by Monnet but by Adrian Hilton in his book The Principality and Power of Europe. 32 David Rennie, “Keep Up the Pressure for a No Vote, Left Warned,” Daily Telegraph (UK), 26 May 2005. 33 Peter Oborne, “Europe Is Slowly Strangling the Life Out of National Democracy,” Daily Telegraph (UK), 1 January 2014. 34 The quote is attributed to a variety of people but most often associated with financier Bernard Baruch. http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/12/04/those-who-mind/. 35 Slavoj Žižek, “The Reality of the Virtual.” www.izlese.org/slavoj-a-34-ia-34-ek-the-reality-of-the-virtual-1-7.html. 36 Tom Perkins, “Letter: Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” Wall Street Journal, 24 January 2014. www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304549504579316913982034286. 37 Nick Hanauer, “The Pitchforks Are Coming…for Us Plutocrats,” Politico, July/August 2014. www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.html#ixzz3IuF76580. 38 John Maynard Keynes, The Means to Prosperity, Macmillan, 1933, p. 37. www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/keynes-means/keynes-means-00-h.html. 39 This is actually a popular derivation of a quote from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 183: “Not that you lied to me but that I no longer believe you has shaken me.” 10.

In 2014, Thomas Piketty, a French economics professor, had an unexpected bestseller with the English translation of Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Self-consciously evoking Karl Marx, the 700-page book analyzed income and wealth distribution. Like Casablanca's Captain Renault, who was shocked to find that gambling was going on under his nose, the world appeared surprised that inequality was increasing and that capitalism concentrates wealth over time. Not everyone agreed with the conclusion. Two of the richest plutocrats on the planet, Bill and Melinda Gates, thought that conditions for the poor had improved, on the basis that they hardly saw any these days on their visits to big cities.1 Piketty's Capital traces historical changes in the distribution of income and wealth. It notes that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Western European society was highly unequal, with private wealth concentrated in the hands of a few rich families within a rigid class structure.

The 1 percent argue that their wealth is the result of hard work. People are not of equal ability, they claim. One financier referred to those working for the minimum wage as mentally retarded. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation host Kevin O’Leary thought that it was fantastic that the world's eighty-five richest people had more assets than the poorest 3.5 billion. He saw it as motivating people to work hard and get rich. Plutocrats defended their wealth by arguing that it financed philanthropy, supporting social and cultural projects. But the paradox of charity is that conspicuous generosity to the disadvantaged is financed at the expense of the same people it claims to help. Philanthropy is opaque about the source of the money. Wealth may derive from exploitation, in jurisdictions with poor pay and working conditions, and inadequate environmental controls.


The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: A Twentieth-Century History by David Edgerton

active measures, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, blue-collar work, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, centre right, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, Corn Laws, corporate governance, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, deskilling, Donald Davies, double helix, endogenous growth, Etonian, European colonialism, feminist movement, first-past-the-post, full employment, imperial preference, James Dyson, knowledge economy, labour mobility, land reform, land value tax, manufacturing employment, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Neil Kinnock, new economy, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, packet switching, Philip Mirowski, Piper Alpha, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, trade liberalization, union organizing, very high income, wages for housework, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working poor

It owed a good deal to the policies long espoused by the Conservative Party.25 Indeed, it aspired to, and to some extent succeeded in, becoming a party much like the Conservative Party or the Liberal Democratic Party in both structure and policies. It was a party in which the parliamentary leadership dominated, was comfortable with plutocrats and had slight and wary connections to the working class. Millionaires, including Lord Sainsbury, funded New Labour. The plutocratic Murdoch press, which had vilified Neil Kinnock, and indeed John Major, supported New Labour, as no capitalist newspaper with the exception of the Mirror had. It was telling, too, that as they lost ministerial office the Labour high command took to going off to join boards of regulated companies, lobbying firms and aspiring private health providers.26 It was the party of the management consultants, the PR agencies, the outsourced public services and the aspiring public sector high-fliers.

The Turks would get everything they wanted. Lloyd George was the ‘man who won the war’. He was a politician of supreme talent; brought up speaking Welsh, he attended no university, but entered politics as a solicitor, the minor branch of the legal profession. He was known as an anti-imperialist, a radical liberal opposed to armaments, a scourge of the aristocracy and its powers, though a man close to plutocrats. He went into the war as chancellor of the exchequer, becoming minister of munitions in 1915, creating that vital ministry which took over supply responsibilities from the War Office, and then became secretary of state for war (that is, army minister). Lloyd George, the Welsh Wizard, transformed the capacity of the British government to wage war, leading the empire to victory in 1918. He argued for conscription, anathema to most Liberals, and ousted his fellow Liberal Herbert Asquith, prime minister since 1908, in December 1916.

Some aristocrats mined their coal themselves, as will be shown below; others had colliery companies exploit their coal. Great aristocrats might even go into industry directly. The Dukes of Devonshire (whose seat was in Derbyshire) created the Naval Construction and Armaments Co. of Barrow-in-Furness, which they sold to Vickers, in which they acquired a large shareholding, among many others. The British aristocrat had become a plutocrat, a rentier, an owner of capital in the abstract, a passive beneficiary of the labour of both workers and managers, on a grand scale. There was no more cosmopolitan capitalism than that of red-blooded British peers of ancient lineage.8 The income that came from investment was central to the income of the ruling classes. Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) is a pointed commentary on this.


pages: 976 words: 235,576

The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite by Daniel Markovits

"Robert Solow", 8-hour work day, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Anton Chekhov, asset-backed security, assortative mating, basic income, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Emanuel Derman, equity premium, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, helicopter parent, high net worth, hiring and firing, income inequality, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, medical residency, minimum wage unemployment, Myron Scholes, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, stakhanovite, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas Davenport, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, traveling salesman, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional, zero-sum game

See Arthur Sackley, “Salaries of Major Federal Officials, 1789–1965,” Monthly Labor Review 87 (October 1964): 1145. A well-compensated financial analyst might make $40,000 a year. See William Norby, “Profile and Compensation of the Financial Analyst,” Financial Analysts Journal 28, no. 2 (March–April 1972): 36. See also Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (New York: Penguin Press, 2012), 226. Hereafter cited as Freeland, Plutocrats. Freeland reports that as recently as 1980, top regulators earned one-tenth of the salaries of leaders of the businesses that they regulated. By 2005, they earned one-sixtieth. the military or the clergy: See Zouheir Jamoussi, Primogeniture and Entail in England: A Survey of Their History and Representation in Literature (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011), 61.

the fifty richest Americans: According to Forbes, twelve of the fifty richest Americans in 2013 were financiers, asset managers, or investors. In 2018, thirteen of the fifty richest Americans in 2013 were financiers, asset managers, or investors. See Kroll and Dolan, “Forbes 400.” About a fifth of all billionaires now work in finance: In 2012, of the 1,226 people on Forbes’s billionaires list, 77 were financiers and 143 were investors. Cited in Freeland, Plutocrats. investable assets of more than $30 million: Many of the numbers in this paragraph come from Freeland, Plutocrats, 120. might reach $425,000: Ho, Liquidated, 262–63, citing Erica Copulsky, “Ka-Ching!,” New York Post, December 11, 2006, which lists ranges of $600,000 to $1,300,000 for directors, $500,000 to $925,000 for vice presidents, $325,000 to $525,000 for third-year associates. $500,000 per professional employee: Duff McDonald, “Please, Sir, I Want Some More.

., Schedule 14A: Preliminary Proxy Statement (filed April 4, 2018), accessed July 23, 2018, www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/19617/000001961718000067/jpmc2018preliminaryproxy.htm; the Goldman Sachs Group, Form 8-K (filed February 15, 2018), accessed July 23, 2018, www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/886982/000119312518047491/d518947d8k.htm; and Morgan Stanley, Schedule 14A: Definitive Proxy Statement (filed April 6, 2018), accessed July 23, 2018, www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/895421/000119312518109962/d492849ddef14a.htm. See also Freeland, Plutocrats, 226, who reports that as recently as 1980, top regulators earned one-tenth of the salaries of leaders of the businesses that they regulated. By 2005, they earned one-sixtieth. daughter of Pakistani immigrants: See, e.g., Seth Stern, “The Dealmaker: Top M&A Attorney Faiza Saeed is Cravath’s Presiding Partner,” Harvard Law Bulletin, May 18, 2017, accessed July 23, 2018, https://today.law.harvard.edu/the-dealmaker/.


pages: 317 words: 71,776

Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, buy and hold, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, David Graeber, delayed gratification, Dominic Cummings, double helix, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, family office, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, housing crisis, income inequality, land value tax, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, lump of labour, mega-rich, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, TaskRabbit, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, very high income, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor

Source: Oxfam’s own polling. Respondents were asked whether they agreed with the statement ‘The rich have too much influence over where this country is headed.’ Figure 3.4 Attitudes to inequalities in wealth and power in six countries, 2014 Low and Falling Pay To keep our wages coming in, we have at all times to be polite and welcoming to the very rich, hiding our disgust behind our hand as we open the door to plutocrat X or prince Y and say: ‘Ah, sir, how very good it is to see you again. I have prepared a warm bath and a hot concubine just as you like them. Pay no attention to the talk of revolution in the kitchen.’ Ian Jack, 201379 In 2010 and 2011, to keep their jobs, millions of workers accepted pay cuts or took shorter hours. Between those two years, average public sector pay fell from £16.60 to £15.80 per hour, and for private sector work it fell from £15.10 to £13.60.

Those below them do not believe their grandparents when they tell them that they had it better, in a world that was a more pleasant place to live. Their great-grandparents are usually no longer around to tell them how such a world was won. Many books are now being written to explain that there are areas of our lives where crude markets are inefficient, and where competition causes harm. Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy is a good example. Other current titles, such as Chystia Freeland’s Plutocrats, explain what it is like to be superrich; or how it is to live life more precariously, as Guy Standing’s The Precariat makes clear; or what it feels like to be at the bottom, as Owen Jones describes in Chavs; or the top as Jones describes in The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It. In the US the growing precariat majority – those whose lives are economically precarious – has come to be called the ‘task rabbit economy’.

Moore, ‘RBS Settles £5.7bn Debt, but We’re Still £20bn Under Water’, Independent, 5 May 2012. 17. The City of London is home to the Livery company, the Worshipful Company of International Bankers. P. Latham, The State and Local Government: Towards a New Basis for ‘Local Democracy’ and the Defeat of Big Business Control (Croydon: Manifesto Press, 2011), p. 87. 18. K. Roose, ‘One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society’, New York, 18 February 2014. 19. J. Nye, ‘Inside Wall Street’s Most Secret Society: The Billionaire Banker Fraternity where Cross-Dressing New Members Make Jokes about Hillary Clinton and Drunkenly Mock the Financial Crisis’, Daily Mail, 18 February 2014. 20. The ‘most expensive schooling, the right connections, the financial backing [can produce a] sense of entitlement’.


pages: 543 words: 147,357

Them And Us: Politics, Greed And Inequality - Why We Need A Fair Society by Will Hutton

Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Blythe Masters, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, discovery of the americas, discrete time, diversification, double helix, Edward Glaeser, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low cost airline, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, money market fund, moral hazard, moral panic, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Neil Kinnock, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price discrimination, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, unpaid internship, value at risk, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, zero-sum game, éminence grise

Or how hard it was for Sky to create a market for satellite television; and how keenly it now exploits its monopoly. Business is always political, which is why so many of the billionaires in Forbes’ annual list have amassed their fortunes through their political as much as their entrepreneurial talents. They comprise a ragbag of monopolists, oligarchs who have been gifted assets and profits by the state, mega-financial engineers and plain old family plutocrats. Sixty-two of 1011 billionaires in 2010 were Russian oligarchs. Twenty-eight were Turkish oligarchs. Even Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, made his fortune from being the monopolist who controls 90 per cent of Mexico’s telephone landlines and supplies 80 per cent of its mobile phone subscribers. This is the kind of capitalism that was the norm in pre-democratic, pre-Enlightenment Europe, with the monarch dispensing or auctioning licences to trade to favoured merchants and businessmen.

The fortunes in the Sunday Times ‘Rich List’ are overwhelmingly made in finance, private equity, hedge funds, investment banking and property, courtesy of leverage and one-way bets made with other people’s money. They dwarf in both numbers and scale of wealth the United States’ robber barons, English imperial adventurers, French tax-farmers, Spanish conquistadors and even corrupt Roman senators. And at least those earlier plutocrats left behind empires, monuments, cultures and great industries. Today’s bankers have left nothing but trillions of pounds of permanently lost output throughout the world, while having had their jobs and businesses saved by the taxpayers they deride. Professor Wilhelm Buiter (now the chief economist at Citigroup) describes the situation today as nothing less than communism for the rich. Nor is bankers’ wealth confined to those at the top.

Similarly, if the British government had not bailed out RBS and Lloyds, Barclays would surely have fallen too; and the government guarantees in the interbank markets, along with £200 billion of quantitative easing, have been central to its ongoing viability. Yet the bankers don’t get it. They really believe that they deserve their astonishing pay packages. It is part of their DNA, the culmination of decades in which big finance has made the rules, created its own mores and bent regulation and politics to its will. The financial plutocrats take over the state Big finance had – and still has – the politicians in its pockets. The degree to which bankers have penetrated government and convinced it to share its view of the world has been extraordinary, beyond any reasonable justification that some industry–government dialogue is helpful. In Washington the grip of investment banking and private equity on successive administrations was almost complete.


pages: 632 words: 159,454

War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures, and Debt by Kwasi Kwarteng

accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Atahualpa, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, California gold rush, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Etonian, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, German hyperinflation, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, market bubble, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, new economy, oil shock, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, quantitative easing, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, War on Poverty, Yom Kippur War

.), The Diary of Sir Edward Walter Hamilton, Hull, 1993, p. 128, entry for Monday 17 November 1890. 20Sir Frederick Leith-Ross, Money Talks: Fifty Years of International Finance, London, 1968, p. 21. 21Jamie Camplin, The Rise of the Plutocrats: Wealth and Power in Edwardian England, London, 1978, p. 63. 22Youssef Cassis, City Bankers, 1890–1914, trans. Margaret Rocques, Cambridge, 1994, p. 4. 23Youssef Cassis, ‘Merchant Bankers and City Aristocracy’, British Journal of Sociology, vol. 39, no. 1 (March 1988), pp. 114–20, at pp. 117–18. 24Nicholas A. H. Stacey, English Accountancy: A Study in Social and Economic History, 1800–1954, London, 1954, p. 37. 25Kynaston, The City of London: Golden Years, p. 21. 26Ibid., p. 319. 27Ibid., p. 26. 28Camplin, The Rise of the Plutocrats, p. 60. 29Saemy Japhet, Recollections from my Business Life, London, 1931, p. 114. 30DNB, ‘Ernest Cassel’. 31Cassis, City Bankers, p. 7. 32Niall Ferguson, ‘Political Risk and the International Bond Market between the 1848 Revolution and the Outbreak of the First World War’, Economic History Review, vol. 59, no. 1 (2006), pp. 70–112, at pp. 72, 91, 98. 33Alexander D.

This, of course, was one of the risks of a partnership, which involved unlimited liability, in which capitalists could lose all, and more than all, of their stake in a business, since they were liable for any debts.34 Walter Bagehot, who had compared the actions of the partners of Overend, Gurney unfavourably to those of a child, was perhaps the most articulate writer on the subject of mid-Victorian finance. His book Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market, published in 1873 and presenting a clear account of how the City worked, has justly been considered a classic. Unlike Sir Robert Peel and Lord Overstone, Bagehot was not from the plutocratic upper-middle classes. He was born in Somerset in 1826, the son of a provincial banker. Like the wealthy Overstone, Bagehot had Unitarian parents, but, unlike the more socially ambitious peer, he remained affiliated to his religion throughout his life. He was educated at the new, secular University College London, rather than at Oxford or Cambridge, which were still closed to those who did not adhere to the Church of England.

He would then ‘work at his desk till one o’clock, when the messenger would bring him a large Havana cigar on a silver tray’. After half an hour or so, smoking and reading newspapers, Murray would resume work at 1.45 p.m. and work till 6 p.m., after which he left the office and went to his club, where, it was said, he ‘did himself very well at dinner’.20 Both cities had a social structure dominated by a thin crust of plutocrats who, perhaps more in London than in New York, were by the early twentieth century very much in a class of their own. London had always welcomed talented foreign immigrants into the City. The City editor of The Times would complain in 1910 of the City being full of ‘Hebrew millionaires and plodding Germans’, but overwhelmingly the City stockbroker and banker was now of a certain type.21 Between 1890 and 1914, the City was dominated by an ‘aristocracy composed of the most prominent merchants, merchant bankers and private bankers’.


pages: 121 words: 36,908

Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase

Airbnb, basic income, bitcoin, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, fixed income, full employment, future of work, high net worth, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), iterative process, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, litecoin, mass incarceration, means of production, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work, postindustrial economy, price mechanism, private military company, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart meter, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck

Think and Grow Rich was the title of an early classic of the self-help genre, and its basic message has been propagated by various hucksters in a lineage that stretches all the way down to the Oprah Winfrey–promoted bestseller The Secret.10 Unfortunately, positive thinking doesn’t bring about utopia any more than negative thinking brings about the apocalypse. Another version of this creed is the phony utopianism of Silicon Valley plutocrats. From Facebook to Uber, these new-school robber barons shimmer with self-satisfaction as they insist that the market will solve all our problems and deliver prosperity to all, if we would only get out of the way and stop insisting on our petty labor standards and market regulations. The whole charade is an evasion of politics, whether undertaken in the guise of the utopian right or the nihilistic Left.

Others market infrared sensors, facial recognition technologies, and defensive systems that spray noxious smoke or pepper spray. All this for people who, although rich, are largely anonymous and hardly prominent targets for would-be attackers. Paranoid though they may seem, large numbers of the economic elite appear to regard themselves as a set-upon minority, at war with the rest of society. Silicon Valley is a hotbed of such sentiments, plutocrats talking openly about “secession.” In one widely disseminated speech, Balaji Srinivasan, the cofounder of a San Francisco genetics company, told an audience of start-up entrepreneurs that “we need to build opt-in society, outside the US, run by technology.”12 For now, that reflects hubris and ignorance of the myriad ways someone like him is supported by the workers who make his life possible. But it demonstrates the impulse to wall off the rich from what are deemed to be surplus populations.


pages: 341 words: 116,854

The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square by James Traub

Anton Chekhov, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Lindbergh, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, fear of failure, intangible asset, Jane Jacobs, jitney, light touch regulation, megastructure, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, rent control, Ronald Reagan, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal

Most of the dining rooms were below ground level, so that the patron reached his table via a grand stairway. The producer and impresario Florenz Ziegfeld had popularized the triumphal entry, with huzzahs and bravos and trumpet flourishes and bowing and scraping. Here the man about town with the actress of the day on his arm, or the budding plutocrat and his wife, could make just such an entrance, usually accompanied by the house orchestra. Here every man could be the star of his own drama. This was an era of epic eating, when the plutocrat, like the Hawaiian prince, demonstrated his wealth by the dimensions of his belly. Diamond Jim Brady became one of the great celebrities of the age simply by out-eating everyone around him. Brady once explained his philosophy of dining by saying that he started each meal with his stomach four inches from the table and ate until the two made contact.

He kept his job at the Times years after he no longer needed the measly salary, though it’s hard to say whether this was owing to his love of the milieu or his ever-present fear of failure. And Kaufman wrote about what he knew; Broadway gave him his setting, his characters, and his language. The characters in The Butter and Egg Man, for example, speak an almost impenetrable vaudeville slang—“I done six clubs for the wow at the finish, and done it for years!” “Butter and egg man” was the Broadway pejorative for one of the freshly minted midwestern plutocrats who could be counted on to back stage productions; the play’s main character is a starstruck rube from Chillicothe, Ohio, whom a scheming producer separates from his inheritance. (The play-within-the-play features a trial scene, a brothel scene, and a dialogue in Heaven between a rabbi and a priest who “talk about how everybody’s the same underneath, and it don’t matter none what religion they got.”)

When Anita, in turn, had the ingenious idea of staging a series of tableaux vivants in the empty windows of 1 Times Square, the building at 42nd between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, she called her father, who in turn talked to the real estate broker. (No dice.) She once contemplated asking her father if she could broadcast a clandestine radio station from an antenna on top of the Condé Nast Building. Anita, herself such a wounded creature, had no wish to wound anyone, least of all her own family. She was horrified at the suggestion that her plutocratic father might in any sense be the target of Chashama’s radically anticorporate posture. “As a businessman,” she said earnestly, “he’s known for being very generous and very kind.” In fact, Anita saw Chashama as a fulfillment of Seymour’s crotchety worldview. “My grandfather hated Disney,” she said. “He always said Times Square was meant to be built up by the community. That was one of his bottom lines.”


pages: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, drone strike, end world poverty, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

But ever since the inception of central banks (back in 1694 in the British case), their role has been to protect and bail out the bankers and not to take care of the well-being of the people. The fact that the United States could statistically exit the crisis in the summer of 2009 and that stock markets almost everywhere could recover their losses has had everything to do with the policies of the Federal Reserve. Does this portend a global capitalism managed under the dictatorship of the world’s central bankers whose foremost charge is to protect the power of the banks and the plutocrats? If so, then that seems to offer very little prospect for a solution to current problems of stagnant economies and falling living standards for the mass of the world’s population. There is also much chatter about the prospects for a technological fix to the current economic malaise. While the bundling of new technologies and organisational forms has always played an important role in facilitating an exit from crises, it has never played a determinate one.

This left, which strangely echoes a libertarian and even neoliberal ethic of anti-statism, is nurtured intellectually by thinkers such as Michel Foucault and all those who have reassembled postmodern fragmentations under the banner of a largely incomprehensible post-structuralism that favours identity politics and eschews class analysis. Autonomist, anarchist and localist perspectives and actions are everywhere in evidence. But to the degree that this left seeks to change the world without taking power, so an increasingly consolidated plutocratic capitalist class remains unchallenged in its ability to dominate the world without constraint. This new ruling class is aided by a security and surveillance state that is by no means loath to use its police powers to quell all forms of dissent in the name of anti-terrorism. It is in this context that I have written this book. The mode of approach I have adopted is somewhat unconventional in that it follows Marx’s method but not necessarily his prescriptions and it is to be feared that readers will be deterred by this from assiduously taking up the arguments here laid out.

Contradiction 8 Technology, Work and Human Disposability The central contradiction that the traditional Marxist conception of socialism/communism is supposed to resolve is that between the incredible increase in the productive forces (broadly understood as technological capacities and powers) and capital’s incapacity to utilise that productivity for the common welfare because of its commitment to the prevailing class relations and their associated mechanisms of class reproduction, class domination and class rule. Left to itself, the argument goes, capital is bound to produce an increasingly vulnerable oligarchic and plutocratic class structure under which the mass of the world’s population is left to hustle a living or starve to death. Frustrated by this ever-increasing inequality in the midst of plenty, a self-consciously organised anti-capitalist revolutionary movement (led, in Leninist accounts, by a vanguard party) will arise among the masses to dismantle class rule before going on to reorganise the global economy to deliver the benefits promised by capital’s amazing productivity to everyone on planet earth.


pages: 401 words: 115,959

Philanthrocapitalism by Matthew Bishop, Michael Green, Bill Clinton

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Bob Geldof, Bonfire of the Vanities, business process, business process outsourcing, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, cleantech, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Dava Sobel, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, don't be evil, family office, financial innovation, full employment, global pandemic, global village, God and Mammon, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Dyson, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Live Aid, lone genius, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, mass affluent, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, new economy, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Singer: altruism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, working poor, World Values Survey, X Prize

The annual meeting each January is a favorite target of antiglobalization protesters who think that inside the security ring, Davos Man (as Samuel Huntington christened its attendees) is busy taking all sorts of self-seeking plutocratic decisions. Whether or not as a direct response to these protests, and the creation of the rival World Social Forum, in recent years the agenda at Davos has broadened from economic growth and trade to address the big social challenges facing the world, such as development, poverty, and climate change. Whilst Kent attacks philanthropic plutocrats from the political right, there are also plenty of left-wing critiques of the growing political power of the rich. Starting in the 1980s, there has been a “fusion of money and government” in America, writes Kevin Phillips in his 2003 book, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich.

One man’s media baron is another man’s champion of freedom, regardless of whether he is making a commercial investment or a philanthropic gift. It remains to be seen if ProPublica will produce investigative stories about the Democratic Party, to which the Sandlers have been substantial donors. Will it be a case of “up to a point, Mr. and Mrs. Sandler”? Kent’s concerns pale besides some of the plutocratic conspiracy theories that have spread over the years. One popular target is the Bilderberg Group, a gathering of CEOs and politicians who are supposedly conspiring to enforce global capitalism—or so it was believed by, among others, Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Another is the summer gathering at Bohemian Grove in a redwood forest north of San Francisco, attended by Warren Buffett, among other tycoons.

Bloomberg gives the first argument short shrift: “You don’t get a lot of votes giving to a small museum in Harlem,” he says, noting that he has covered himself on the latter charge at least by putting his business into a blind trust while mayor. One reason why these charges have not stuck in the way that similar claims leveled at media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi have during his stints as prime minister of Italy is the system that America has put in place over the years to protect itself against plutocratic abuses. When the rich get involved in politics, they must do so transparently and are subject to intense scrutiny. There are clear rules governing conflicts of interest, such as favoring a personal business. The legal system is tough on those found to abuse their position. There are tough limits on media ownership. Alas, the same is not true in Italy. Bloomberg’s media company operates in a competitive market; Beslusconi’s media empire wields near-monopoly power.


Toast by Stross, Charles

anthropic principle, Buckminster Fuller, cosmological principle, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Extropian, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, glass ceiling, gravity well, Khyber Pass, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, NP-complete, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, performance metric, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, slashdot, speech recognition, strong AI, traveling salesman, Turing test, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

Beyond it rise the isolated concrete mushrooms of anti-shipping emplacements. They guard the dark gray horizon against the day when the leaden sea turns to gold beneath a nuclear sunrise and the Eurasian assault hovercraft come storming across the English Channel. I shiver, and it’s not just the autumn breeze coming in off the bloated Wash. Too many people are buried beneath the still waters of the flooded Norfolk farmlands: peasants and plutocrats alike from the Years of Terror, then Little Sister’s followers (purged at the end of the ‘eighties, when the Party turned back towards pragmatism). Ingsoc eats its mistakes. I don’t want to become one of them. “Why did you join the resistance?” I ask softly. (Even now, a kilometre from the other nearest human beings, I feel the need to whisper.) Veronica glances away from me; I follow her gaze out to the silent doomsday bunkers and back.

The man sitting in the over-stuffed chair with the ornate gilt woodwork smiles broadly as I re-enter the room. “Ah, there you are. I was afraid you were ill.” I smile weakly. He has a great big axe of a nose, dark eyes and pale hair slicked straight back from his forehead in an oily wave. He wears a grey suit, of exquisite but antique tailoring, like something out of a pre-revolution drama: only the party pin on his lapel distinguishes him from some prehistoric plutocrat, an enemy of the people. “Have a seat,” invites SubMinister Manson. “This won’t take long.” I sit where he indicates, in another people’s treasure that creaks alarmingly beneath me. The drawing room is a state heirloom, waxed floor to silver candlesticks, except for the rack of telephones and a modern online terminal in the corner. The goon in the window bay is watching me with eyes like gunsights, ready to defend his master if I so much as blink in the wrong tone of voice, and there are two more just like him beside each doorway.

Remember the fourth slogan? Whose idea do you think it was?” “Not yours—” “Inner party, Jim, the outer party doesn’t know what the inner party does. Why do you think it would be any different in the resistance?” “Because the doctrine is so different—” “Doctrine may differ, but methods converge under similar circumstances. Just as the party had to chew away like starved rats at the belly of the plutocratic society that preceded it, so the resistance must gnaw at the party’s guts. I may find it expedient to go around behaving like a deranged thug, but please credit me with some method in my madness. Just like the samizdata buried in the terminals; we mask it on top of the legitimate traffic, you know. And the broken ring protection.” “Why me?” A chuckle. “Why not? You don’t take shit, Jim. You hate everything your father stood for, you’re not naive enough to swallow any ideology wholesale, and whatever you say you have a sneaky hankering for freedom.


pages: 252 words: 78,780

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, RAND corporation, remote working, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, young professional

Business Insider, December 18, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/women-are-losing-more-jobs-from-the-retail-apocalypse-2017-12. Green, Dennis, and Mike Nudelman. “More than 8,000 Store Closures Were Announced in 2017—Here’s the Full List.” Business Insider, December 17, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/list-stores-that-closed-this-year-2017-12. Hanauer, Nick. “The Pitchforks Are Coming…for Us Plutocrats.” PoliticoMagazine, July/August 2014. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014. Hernández, Gabrielle Orum. “The New Short-Term Solution: Inside the Growing Legal Gig Economy.” Corporate Counsel, May 23, 2017. https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/almID/1202787084603. Kelly, Kevin. “The Roaring Zeros.” Wired, September 1, 1999. https://www.wired.com/1999/09/zeros. Lawson, Sarah. “‘Constant Stress’ at Amazon Centers Making Workers Sick, Says U.K.

He urged his fellow one-percenters not to ignore the problem or run away from it, but instead to try to fix it. That was only fair, since they had created it. Hanauer started writing books and essays, giving speeches, and lobbying politicians to enact policies—like raising the minimum wage—that could reverse the widening gap between haves and have-nots. In a blistering 2014 essay, titled “The Pitchforks Are Coming for Us Plutocrats,” Hanauer warned that if we continued on the same path, eventually millions of people in the precariat would launch a revolution. “You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples,” he wrote. What’s more, Hanauer believes the people rising up would be completely justified, for they have been the victims of one of the greatest swindles of all time.


pages: 307 words: 82,680

A Pelican Introduction: Basic Income by Guy Standing

bank run, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, intangible asset, job automation, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, labour market flexibility, land value tax, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, open economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Sam Altman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, universal basic income, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working poor, Y Combinator, Zipcar

In addition, selective tax breaks and the very extensive range of regressive subsidies given out by governments and supra-national bodies are vast and mostly unjustifiable, morally or economically. At the same time, the existing welfare system is complex, inefficient, morally dubious and very expensive. In many countries poverty is increasing. And inequality is rising rapidly, with an extraordinary growth in the rental income going to elites, plutocrats and plutocratic corporations.39 A large part, or even all, of the funds for a basic income could come from obtaining for society enough of this huge rental income that comes simply from ownership of income-yielding property of all kinds. Those who claim that a basic income could only be afforded by slashing social services or sharply raising income tax rates are misleading, deliberately or naively. In the end, the issue of affordability comes down to the priority society gives to social justice, republican freedom and economic security.

Yet with the introduction of protectionist measures, production costs will rise, automation will accelerate, and the next scapegoat will be the robots ‘taking American jobs from American workers’. Then perhaps something like a basic income will creep back onto the policy table. While there are reasons to be sceptical about the predicted technological dystopia that has prompted many high-tech plutocrats to come out in support of basic income, this may nevertheless be a strong factor in mobilizing public pressure and political action. Whether jobs are going to dry up or not, the march of the robots is undoubtedly accentuating insecurity and inequality. A basic income or social dividend system would provide at least a partial antidote to that, as more commentators now recognize.6 For example, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum and author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, has described basic income as a ‘plausible’ response to labour market disruption.7 President Barack Obama said in an interview shortly before the end of his presidency that universal basic income would be ‘a debate that we’ll be having over the next 10 or 20 years’, noting: ‘What is indisputable … is that as AI [Artificial Intelligence] gets further incorporated, and the society potentially gets wealthier, the link between production and distribution, how much you work and how much you make, gets further and further attenuated.’8 The ethical and philosophical justifications for basic income – social justice, freedom and economic security – have been well established.


pages: 482 words: 122,497

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule by Thomas Frank

affirmative action, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, edge city, financial deregulation, full employment, George Gilder, guest worker program, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, new economy, P = NP, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, rent control, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Telecommunications Act of 1996, the scientific method, too big to fail, union organizing, War on Poverty

They did not do these awful things because they were bad conservatives; they did them because they were good conservatives, because these unsavory deeds followed naturally from the core doctrines of the conservative tradition. And, yes, there was greed involved in the effort—a great deal of greed. Every tax cut, every cleverly engineered regulatory snafu saved industry millions and perhaps even billions of dollars, and so naturally securing those tax cuts and engineering those snafus became a booming business here in Washington. Conservative rule made the capital region rich, a showplace of the plutocratic order. But this greed cannot be dismissed as some personal failing of lobbyist or congressman, some badness-of-apple that could easily have been contained. Conservatism, as we have seen it, is a movement that is about greed, about the “virtue of selfishness” when it acts in the marketplace. In rightwing Washington, you could be a man of principle and a boodler at the same time. One of the instructive stories We Are the Government brought before generations of schoolkids was the tale of a smiling dime whose wanderings were meant to introduce us to the government and all that it does for us: the miner who digs the ore for the dime has his “health and safety” supervised by one branch of the government; the bank in which the dime is stored enjoys the protection of a different branch, which “sees that [banks] are safe places for people to keep their money”; the dime gets paid in tax on a gasoline sale; it then lands in the pocket of a Coast Guard lieutenant, who takes it overseas and spends it on a parrot, which is “quarantined for ninety days” when the lieutenant brings it home.

To fill the main supporting role in this great freedom-fest, meanwhile, the organizers turned to apartheid South Africa, a place where only a small, correctly complexioned percentage of the population possessed the most basic democratic rights. But there was also a certain cynical brilliance to it. Jamba was officially sponsored by a long-forgotten Washington group called Citizens for America whose leading members were typical conservative plutocrats: oil barons, Wall Street kings, and agribusiness lords. The group’s founder, Jack Hume, was one of the California millionaires who had funded Ronald Reagan’s political career from the beginning. (“He made a substantial investment and has backed Reagan ever since” is one apt description.)46 To represent its conservatism to the world, though, this 24-karat group did not choose a contented white yachtsman snoozing in an easy chair, but a black African fond of camouflage and handguns; a ferocious warrior who single-handedly kept a real rebellion burning against the government of his country year after year.

Ever the leader in these matters, Jack Abramoff, in his lobbyist years, devised a secret “credit” system whereby one trusted confederate would use his position as aide to a powerful congressman to serve Abramoff’s clients and then, later on, when he had joined Abramoff’s lobbying firm, collect a reward commensurate with what he had delivered.7 As I have pointed out, conservatives deliberately tried to make public service an unattractive career option, opening up a “pay gap” between the public and private sectors and muttering about a “wage freeze” when federal workers complained about it. What this meant in practical terms was that the pay of government workers stagnated at the same time that Washington rose to the wealthiest tier of cities, making the carrots of private-sector success that dangled in every inhabitant’s face seem that much juicier. It wasn’t planned that way, of course, but by bidding the price of home and (private) college so high, plutocratization had the effect of making bureaucrats more and more anxious about their declining status, and ever more desperate to please those who might someday offer them a berth in the class that was going up instead of down. It was a self-reinforcing cycle. In fact, the chasm between public and private employees was so vast by the end of the conservative era that even members of Congress routinely hit the revolving door, anxious to get started lobbying their former colleagues.


pages: 442 words: 130,526

The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age by James Crabtree

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Branko Milanovic, business climate, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, colonial rule, Commodity Super-Cycle, corporate raider, creative destruction, crony capitalism, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, facts on the ground, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, informal economy, Joseph Schumpeter, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, open economy, Parag Khanna, Pearl River Delta, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, special economic zone, spectrum auction, The Great Moderation, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, yellow journalism, young professional

India is far from the first country to enjoy a period of rampant cronyism and wild growth, and to emerge changed fundamentally in its aftermath. In Britain the onset of the Industrial Revolution kicked off such a moment in the mid-nineteenth century, commemorated in the novels of Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope. But the more obvious parallel is with America, and the era that ran from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the turn of the twentieth century: the Gilded Age, or the era of “the great corporation, the crass plutocrat [and] the calculating political boss,” as one historian put it.24 Mid-nineteenth-century America viewed itself as a rural, egalitarian idyll: a nation of yeoman farmers governed by gentleman politicians. It was a vision that would have been shared by Mohandas Gandhi, the monastic civil rights leader whose philosophy of nonviolence helped India win its independence, and who believed firmly in the spiritual superiority of village life.

Yet just two generations later the United States stood transformed, after a whipsawing period of booms and busts in which its economy grew faster than at any point before or since.25 Industrial centers like Chicago and Pittsburgh absorbed millions who left their land, and millions more immigrating from Europe. What had been a nation of isolated farmers turned into a giant continental economy and the world’s leading industrial power. Just as in India, this growth gave birth to a new generation of plutocrats, from oil magnate John Rockefeller and banker John Pierpont Morgan to railroad tycoons Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt. These men sat atop a new “millionaire class” known for its extravagant houses and vulgar displays of wealth. Then they acquired another name: the “robber barons,” for the speed at which they built their fortunes and the lack of conscience they displayed while doing so. From the cliff-top mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, to the splendor of New York’s newly minted millionaires’ row on Fifth Avenue, it was the wealth these tycoons accumulated that defined their era.

So deep-rooted did these problems become that Rajan eventually coined a new term to describe them: the “Resource Raj,” rather than the License Raj, meaning a Russian-style system in which politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists colluded to carve up access to valuable natural resources and shared the proceeds among themselves.25 Around the time those scandals were emerging, Michael Walton, an academic at Harvard, decided to tease out more precisely the link between cronyism and the super-rich. British by birth and a political scientist by training, Walton moved to New Delhi in 2007, where his wife worked for the World Bank. Both lived in Mexico beforehand, a country known for the momentous wealth of its plutocrats and the cronyism of its political leaders, many of whom made fortunes during the privatization of formerly state-owned industries in areas like telecoms and banking. Walton fretted that India was now falling into the same trap. “I got interested in the striking fact that India had such high levels of billionaire wealth,” he told me. “The worry that India was going to turn out like Mexico seemed clear.”


pages: 505 words: 137,572

Dr. Johnson's London: Coffee-Houses and Climbing Boys, Medicine, Toothpaste and Gin, Poverty and Press-Gangs, Freakshows and Female Education by Liza Picard

A. Roger Ekirch, clean water, double entry bookkeeping, joint-stock company, New Urbanism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, South Sea Bubble

We ignore the boatmen who are shouting for our custom and walk up the muddy steps onto London Bridge. With luck you may hear the lions roaring in the Tower of London. Looking through a gap in the houses on the bridge, you can see the merchant ships and lighters packed together waiting to unload at the Custom House [still there, on the north bank of the river]. Upstream of the bridge the river is covered by small passenger craft, with the occasional royal or plutocratic private barge, like a Rolls-Royce among minis. Near the south bank are two more hospitals, St Thomas’s [it has moved since 1750], and a new one founded by a millionaire [Guy’s Hospital is still there, just off the Borough High Street]. Then we go to the nearest ‘stairs’ down to the river again, and take a boat back to the Strand. Despite the burgeoning prosperity of the west end, it was the City that still represented power.

The poor are given only a walk-on part, if that, in descriptions of eighteenth-century London.2 Yet without them one is left with what I came to describe in my mind as ‘satin and Chippendale’. So I have drawn arbitrary lines across Massie’s table, producing three kinds of Londoner. I shall start with the poor, who left no diaries and wrote no letters and are rarely seen in pictures. Then the focus moves to the middling sort, from small tradesmen to prosperous merchants, including the professions. That leaves the gilded plutocrats and royalty for last. CHAPTER 8 The Welfare System What happened to the very poor? There was a system of welfare, administered by parishes. People were not left to starve in the streets, at least not often. But a constable looked into an empty house in St Bride’s one day and found five women. Two had already starved to death, the other three were only just alive. One of them had applied for parish relief, but had been turned away.1 In another account of the same episode, the men who found this awful scene were an estate agent and his prospective client.2 When Samuel Johnson estimated those who died of starvation at twenty a week, ‘Saunders Welch, the Justice, who … had the best opportunities of knowing the state of the poor, told me that I underrated the number.’3 Settlement If you hoped to tap parochial charity, you had to satisfy the legal requirements – not always easy to do if you are starving and illiterate.

Tastes have certainly changed since his day, but to my eye his drawing room,6 which was a riot of gilt curlicues, looked as if a troupe of monkeys – French ones, of course, Lord Chesterfield being francophile – had run riot with pots of gold paint. I concede that the gilding was real gold leaf, and as elegant as it could be, but unlike Spencer House it looks overwhelming and – dare one say it? – vulgar. The most splendid feature of the house was the marble staircase, which Lord Chesterfield picked up in 1747 at the demolition sale of another plutocratic house, Lord Chandos’s Cannons, out near Stanmore. His library was comfortably panelled and had direct access to that rarity, a water closet, which inevitably calls to mind his advice to his son: I knew a gentleman [himself?] who was so good a manager of his time, that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the calls of nature obliged him to spend in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets, in those moments.


pages: 177 words: 50,167

The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics by John B. Judis

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, capital controls, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, invisible hand, laissez-faire capitalism, mass immigration, means of production, neoliberal agenda, obamacare, Occupy movement, open borders, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-materialism, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, white flight, Winter of Discontent

Louis convention, Donnelly’s platform was enthusiastically endorsed by Georgia’s Tom Watson, who had been elected to Congress in 1890 as a Democrat backing the alliance platform. “Never before in the history of the world was there arrayed at the ballot box the contending forces of Democracy and Plutocracy,” Watson declared. “Will you stand with the people . . . by the side of the other wealth producers of the nation . . . or will you stand facing them, and from the plutocratic ranks fire a ballot in support of the old parties and their policies of disorganization, despotism, and death?” There was always a more conservative strain within the populist movement. In the South, some alliance members cooperated with the parallel Colored Farmers’ Alliance, but others did not, and racial issues often divided populists from the Plains and the South. Populists also favored the expulsion of Chinese immigrants, whom businesses had imported to provide cheap labor on western farms and railroads.

Populists also favored the expulsion of Chinese immigrants, whom businesses had imported to provide cheap labor on western farms and railroads. That was understandable, but their support for exclusion was often colored by racist rhetoric. Kansas populist leader Mary E. Lease warned of a “tide of Mongols.” And Watson’s People’s Party Paper denounced the Chinese as “moral and social lepers.” But in the 1880s and early 1890s, populist politics was primarily directed upward at the plutocrats. As historian Robert McMath recounts, they were repeatedly accused of being “Molly Maguires, Anarchists, and Communists.” In the 1892 election, the People’s Party did remarkably well. Their woefully underfunded presidential candidate received 8 percent of the vote and carried five states. Then in 1893, as Cleveland was taking office, an economic depression took hold, leaving a quarter of Americans unemployed and thousands of farmers bankrupt.


Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Legislative Exchange Council, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Flynn Effect, Google Earth, Hyperloop, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, life extension, light touch regulation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart meter, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, supervolcano, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Y2K, yield curve

They’re not as blustering as Donald Trump, and they’re uninterested in his flashiest hatreds and crusades, but they’re both the most important architects, and among the biggest beneficiaries, of his rule. On everything from tax cuts to environmental regulation, the Trump years, for the Kochs, have been what their biographer Jane Mayer calls “their dream come true.”4 The Koch brothers have become such a shorthand for plutocratic excess that it’s important to remind ourselves that they are real men with real stories, also rooted in the twentieth century (and told most ably by Mayer in her book Dark Money). Not unlike some Ayn Rand hero, their father, Fred Koch, had invented an improved process for refining crude oil into gasoline. The Soviet Union sought his expertise as it set up its own refineries after the Bolshevik Revolution.

So: global warming is the ultimate problem for oil companies because oil causes it, and it’s the ultimate problem for government haters because without government intervention, you can’t solve it. Those twin existential threats, to cash and to worldview, meant that there was never any shortage of resources for the task of denying climate change. We’ve already seen how it began in the late 1980s, with Exxon-funded groups such as the Global Climate Coalition, but by the new century, it had morphed into a massive web of plutocrats and their functionaries. Koch-funded professors at four hundred colleges across America were busy teaching the new gospel. “Only idiocy would conclude that mankind’s capacity to change the climate is more powerful than the forces of nature,” one explained to his charges in Maryland. In Colorado, another produced and starred in the slyly titled film An Inconvenient Truth … or Convenient Fiction?

They’re all about the future: Tesla is installing the world’s largest rooftop solar array on the top of its Gigafactory, which produces more lithium-ion batteries than any facility on Earth. Google spelled out its corporate logo in mirrors at the giant solar station in the Mojave Desert on the day it announced that it would power every last watt of its global business with renewable energy; it’s the world’s biggest corporate purchaser of green power.2 But there is exactly one human being who bridges that cultural gulf between these different species of plutocrat. Vanity Fair, in 2016, declared that Ayn Rand was “perhaps the most influential figure in the tech industry.” Steve Wozniak (cofounder of Apple) said that Steve Jobs (deity) considered Atlas Shrugged one of his guides in life.3 Elon Musk (also a deity, and straight out of a Rand novel, with his rockets and hyperloops and wild cars) says Rand “has a fairly extreme set of views, but she has some good points in there.”4 That’s as faint as the praise gets.


pages: 357 words: 94,852

No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein

Airbnb, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Brewster Kahle, Celebration, Florida, clean water, collective bargaining, Corrections Corporation of America, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy transition, financial deregulation, greed is good, high net worth, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, income inequality, Internet Archive, Kickstarter, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, sexual politics, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transatlantic slave trade, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, urban decay, women in the workforce, working poor

So what is there in Trump’s track record, in his treatment of his own workers, in the appointments he has made, in the pro-corporate policies he has already pushed through, that should cause anyone to believe that the way he will renegotiate trade deals, or “bring back the jobs,” will in any way be in the interests of workers or the environment? Rather than hope that Trump is going to magically transform into Bernie Sanders, and choose this one arena in which to be a genuine advocate for anyone who isn’t related to him, we would do far better to ask some tough questions about how it’s been possible for a gang of unapologetic plutocrats, with open disdain for democratic norms, to hijack an issue like corporate free trade in the first place. The Race to the Bottom Trump has made trade deals a signature issue for two reasons. The first, on full display that day at the White House, is that it’s a great way to steal votes from the Democrats. The right-wing pundit Charles Krauthammer—no fan of unions—declared on Fox News that Trump’s cozy union summit was a “great act of political larceny.”

A 2017 study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that Mexico’s poverty rate has risen since the 1994 implementation of NAFTA, with 20 million additional people now living in poverty—a major factor pushing Mexican migration to the United States. Meanwhile, in North America and Europe, white workers grew progressively more pissed off at having their voices ignored. This opened the space for demagogues like Trump to step in and direct workers’ rage away from plutocrats like him, who had profited so lavishly from the outsourcing opportunities enabled by these deals, and at Mexican migrants instead, victims of the same policies that were hollowing out their communities, the very same bad deals. This is the space the Brexit campaign usurped, under its slogan “Take back control!” And it is the same rage that France’s Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National speaks to when she tells crowds that globalization has meant “manufacturing by slaves for selling to the unemployed.”

And that the economic precariousness that the union representative was speaking about, and the attacks on Indigenous land rights and on the earth itself that were referenced by Arthur Manuel (who died suddenly at the start of 2017), also flow from the same place: a corrosive values system that places profit above the well-being of people and the planet. The same system has allowed the pursuit of money to so corrode the political process in the United States that a gang of scandal-plagued plutocrats could seize control of the White House. The connections between so many of the emergencies that compete for our time and care are clear. Glaring, even. And yet, for so many reasons—pressure from funders, a desire for “clickable” campaigns, a fear of seeming too radical and therefore doomed—many of us have learned to sever those natural connections, and work in terms of walled-off “issues” or silos.


pages: 417 words: 97,577

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Bob Noyce, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, diversification, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google bus, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, income inequality, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, late capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, means of production, merger arbitrage, Metcalfe's law, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, passive investing, patent troll, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, prediction markets, prisoner's dilemma, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Peltzman, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, undersea cable, Vanguard fund, very high income, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game

Protesters have rallied at the San Francisco International Airport and outside Twitter's offices to protest gentrification and inequality. These foreshocks are easy to ignore, but the elite is starting to feel them. Last year Nick Hanauer, one of the early investors in Amazon and part of the 0.01%, wrote an open memo to “My Fellow Zillionaires.” The piece was appropriately titled, “The Pitchforks Are Coming … for Us Plutocrats”: If we don't do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn't eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples.

Equality of Opportunity Project, http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/. 21. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/. 22. https://qz.com/711854/the-inequality-happening-now-in-san-francisco-will-impact-america-for-generations-to-come/. 23. http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/20/san-jose-san-francisco-oakland-job-losses-hammer-bay-area-employers-slash-thousands-of-jobs/. 24. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/25/google-bus-protest-swells-to-revolt-san-francisco. 25. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014. Conclusion: Economic and Political Freedom 1. Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (New York: George Routledge & Sons, 1944), p. 204. 2. http://bcw-project.org/church-and-state/second-civil-war/agreement-of-the-people. 3. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Wrong Turnings: How the Left Got Lost (University of Chicago Press, January 3, 2018). 4. Elizabeth Anderson's first Tanner 2015 lecture, “When the Market Was ‘Left.’”

., 191 Personal information, Facebook control, 117 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, drug lobbying, 187 Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) market, 115–116 oligopolies, 130–131 Philippon, Thomas, 56 Phone companies, oligopolies, 126–127 Phone operating systems, duopolies, 123 Pierce, Justin, 40–41 Pike, Chris, 226 Piketty, Thomas, 214–217 diagnosis, 228 income chart, 224 Pipes, basis, 122 “Pitchforks Are Coming…for Us Plutocrats” (Hanauer), 232 Planck, Max, 165 “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System” (China), 111–112 Platform companies, 97–98 Political activity, 248 Political freedom, 143–144, 233 Porter, Michael, 14 Posner, Richard, 156 Potsdam Treaty, 150–151 Poultry industry, oligopolies, 132–133 Power balance, 217 concentration, 141 imbalance, 74 Predatory pricing, punishment (laws), 244 Premier, market dominance, 130 Price-fixing, allegations, 131 Price leadership, 43–44 Prices, increase, 40–45 mergers, impact, 44 Prisoner's Dilemma, The, 27–28 Privacy, importance, 247–248 Productivity companies, impact, 54 growth, reduction, 53f low level, impact, 48–49 reduction, 47–56 wages, contrast, 222 Profitability increase, 51 investment, contrast, 57f Profits, lobbying/regulation (relationship), 188 ProPublica study, 104 Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, The, (Weber), 76 Q Queen, Edward, 14 R Raff, Adam, 87–88, 94 Railroads control, farmer resentment, 140 mergers, 120f monopolies/local monopolies, 119 Randall, James, 21 RCA, innovation, 55 Reagan, Nancy, 159 Reagan, Ronald, 46, 158–161 antitrust revolution, 224–225 Reback, Gary, 94 Reed's Law, 98 Reflections on the Revolution in France (Burke), 239 RegData, usage, 180, 188 Regulation lobbying/profits, correlation, 188 profits, correlation, 181 usage, 167, 245–246 Regulatory capture, avoidance, 245 Reich, Robert, 197 Republic Services Group, 3 Return-free filing system, IRS implementation, 126 Returns, company lobbying (comparison), 187f Reverse revolvers, 191–192 Revolt of the Elites, The, (Lasch), 58 Revolutions, appearance, 230–231 Revolving door, 190f, 193f avoidance, 245 Reynolds, Glenn, 183 Rhodes, Cecil, 24 Ricardo, David, 58 Richards, Tyler, 179 Robber barons impact, 111 term, usage, 139 Rock, Edward, 209 Rockefeller, John D., 111, 126, 139–143, 208, 240 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 146, 224 New Deal, 78 Roosevelt, Theodore, 141–143, 193, 234 trust fighting, 239–240 Royal Bank of Scotland, rate rigging, 25 Rural areas, lag, 72f S Salop, Steven, 39, 225 Sandberg, Sheryl, 114 Sanders, Bernie, 212, 231 Sarnoff's Law, 98 Saving Capitalism (Reich), 197 Saxenian, AnnaLee, 67 Scale (West), 51 Schäuble, Wolfgang, 17 Schiantarelli, Fabio, 181 Schmalensee, Richard, 106 Schmalz, Marin, 199 Schmidt, Eric, 68, 96, 114 Schumpeter, Joseph, 4–5 Schweitzer, Arthur, 148 Search engine, building, 118 Searches, monopolies/local monopolies, 118 Secular stagnation, 56 Seeds, monopolies/local monopolies, 119, 121 Servan-Schreiber, Jean-Jacques, 4 Service Corporation International (SCI), market dominance, 121–122 Share buybacks, 206 limitation, 247 Shareholders, 246–247 manager representation, 79 Sherman Act of 1890, 7, 140–144, 157, 160, 237 Sherman, John, 140, 195 Shockley, William, 65–67 Signaling, 30 Silicon Valley, disparagement, 87 Simon, Hermann, 29–30 Singer, Paul, 203–204 Skilling, Jeffrey, 14 SkyChefs, wage laws fines, 78 Small banks, disappearance, 181–182 Small firms, disappearance, 47 Small-scale businesses, job creation, 50 Smith, Adam, 7, 22, 35, 38, 63, 191 invisible hand, 38 Smith, Brad, 94 Smith, William French, 158 Snap, Initial Public Offerings, 107 Snowden, Edward, 112 Social networks, monopolies/local monopolies, 117–118 Society, regulations (service), 245 Soros, George, 113 Sprint, phone market dominance, 126–127 Square-cube law, 49–50 Staggers Rail Act (1980), 119 Staltz, André, 102 Standard Oil market control, 90–91 Supreme Court dissolution, 142 Standard & Poor's 500(S&P500), Big 3 ownership, 203f Startups advertising, 107 dynamics, 106–107 reduction, 45–47 Stationers Company, The, 235 Statute of Monopolies (England), 172 Steele, Helena, 102 Steinbaum, Marshall, 38, 72 Sterling Jewelers, claims (filing), 80 Stewart, market dominance, 135 Stigler, George, 155 Stiles, T.J., 138–139 Stock markets, success, 218 Stock ownership income, impact, 197 US percentage, 201 Stocks company retirement, 207 options, manager purchase, 247 Stoppelman, Jeremy, 108 Strikes, wage growth (association), 80f Strouse, Jean, 208 Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The, (Kuhn), 165 Summers, Larry, 56 Superstar firms, rise, 40 Suslow, Valerie Y., 25 Sustainable prosperity, 208 Sweetland, Kyle, 83 Swipe fees, dispute, 122 Switching costs (reduction), rules (creation), 246 T Tabakovic, Haris, 192 Taibbi, Matt, 102 Takedown notices, filing, 99 Tap Dancing to Work (Buffett), 1 Tax preparation, oligopolies, 125–126 Technology companies market capitalization, 90–91 monopolies, profits, 114 Tecu, Isabel, 199 Teles, Steven M., 174, 188 Temporary work, empowerment, 75 Temporary workers, poverty l ine, 75 Tesla, Nikola, 67, 195 TEVA Pharmaceuticals, generic drug release, 176 Thiel, Peter, 4–5 Third-party services, sale, 245 Thomas, Diana, 180 Time Warner Cable, Comcast purchase (FTC prevention), 165 Time Warner, market dominance, 133 Tit for Tat, 28–29 Title insurance, oligopolies, 135–136 T-Mobile, phone market dominance, 126–127 “Tobacco Trust,” 142 Toll roads, impact, 111 Trademarks, theft, 102 Trade, restraints, 68 “Traitorous Eight,” 66, 84 TransDigm, company acquisition/price increases, 184–186 Trickle-down monetary policies, 219 Trotsky, Leon (rehabilitation), 212 True Believer (Hoffer), 230 Truman, Harry (monopoly condemnation), 146 Trump, Donald (election), 212 Trusts antitrust enforcement budget, 160f challenges, 141 creation, 142 Nazis, commonality, 137 Turf wars, 21 U Unionization, collapse, 83 Unions decrease, 84f membership, income distribution (contrast), 79f restrengthening, 78 United States banking mergers, 128f banks, owners (ranking), 200f economy, entrepreneurialship (reduction), 46f federal government, relationship/revolving door, 190f, 193f grocery market, competitiveness, 32 healthcare, monopolies/oligopolies (prevalence), 131–132 income inequality, 214f, 225f job markets, examination, 38 markets, passively managed assets (share), 202f Morganizing, 195 net wealth shares, 230f optimism, essence, 229 patents, annual issuance, 173f public companies, collapse (number), 10f wages leading indicator, perception (variation), 64f United States v.


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Rendezvous With Oblivion: Reports From a Sinking Society by Thomas Frank

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, business climate, business cycle, call centre, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, deindustrialization, deskilling, Donald Trump, edge city, Frank Gehry, high net worth, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, McMansion, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration

It was wise because it would “induce the rich man to attend to the administration of wealth during his life,” and if he didn’t, then the tax would return most of his hoardings to the “community from which it chiefly came.” Vestiges of the Carnegie attitude survive to this day. A 2009 study of high-net-worth individuals by Barclays Wealth (“a leading global wealth manager”) confirmed that American philanthropists tend to understand their giving in a context in which the state is either absent or irrelevant. And, of course, there are plenty of nice plutocrats who don’t fidget or doodle when talking to strangers, and who have no problem endowing a ward or a wing in return for a commemorative plaque. The business headlines even occasionally tell of billionaires coming together under the leadership of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to donate their fortunes to worthy causes. But the billionaires with the strongest sense of class solidarity have a very different plan for their disposable income: activating their lobbyists in Washington, building grassroots movements to march on their behalf, and using their media properties to run experiments on human credulity.

Insofar as they accepted this “altruism,” the business class committed “treason against themselves.” And so the novelist inveighed against philanthropic donations to universities, where altruists twisted the minds of the young. “It is a moral crime to give money to support your own destroyers,” she scolded. In her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, Rand also proposed a famous antidote to all this mawkish nonsense: a union of class-conscious plutocrats that would go on strike and bring the world to its knees. Atlas Shrugged is celebrated as a prophetic book, and in certain ways Ms. Rand’s imagined future has come to pass. After all, what is the phrase “too big to fail” but a standing threat to shut down the system unless the firm in question gets its way? In 2008, Wall Street essentially held the nation’s 401(k)s hostage until it was bailed out.


pages: 585 words: 151,239

Capitalism in America: A History by Adrian Wooldridge, Alan Greenspan

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Asian financial crisis, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, business process, California gold rush, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, edge city, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, George Gilder, germ theory of disease, global supply chain, hiring and firing, income per capita, indoor plumbing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Mason jar, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strikebreaker, supply-chain management, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade route, transcontinental railway, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, white flight, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Yom Kippur War, young professional

The United States has numerous centers of excellence: New York for finance, San Francisco for technology, Houston for energy, and Los Angeles for films. American capitalism is also the world’s most democratic. The United States was the birthplace of the engines of popular capitalism, from mass production to franchising to mutual funds. In many countries capitalism has always been associated with a plutocratic elite. In America, it has been associated with openness and opportunity: making it possible for people who were born in obscurity to rise to the top of society and for ordinary people to enjoy goods and services that were once confined to the elites. R. H. Macy, a former whaling skipper with a tattoo on one of his hands, sold “goods suitable for the millionaire at prices in reach of the millions.”

They were the first aeronautical pioneers to realize that the key to producing flying machines was not producing ever more powerful engines, but developing a control system that allowed the pilot to steer the plane and maintain its equilibrium. In their first patent they didn’t claim that they had invented a flying machine, but rather a system of aerodynamic control. They were also much more business-minded than their rivals: relying on their own resources rather than on the patronage of governments or plutocrats, they had to turn flying into a business as quickly as possible. In 1909, the brothers formed a company that, as well as manufacturing airplanes, ran a flight school, put on exhibitions of aeronautical daredevilry, and pioneered air freight. Turning a hobby into a business proved difficult. You couldn’t sell aircraft to regular consumers in the way that you could sell cars: they were too expensive and dangerous.

In 1907, as the stock market collapsed and banks imploded, he locked his fellow capitalists in a room in his house at 219 Madison Avenue and told them to come up with a plan to prevent a market meltdown. Banker-imposed order could do more to promote higher productivity than unrestrained competition. The serious question about these titans is not whether they were greedy or selfish. Greed and selfishness are common human emotions that afflict paupers as well as plutocrats. It is not even whether they cut commercial corners. America had not yet encountered many of the great challenges of a sophisticated capitalist economy, let alone formulated rules to deal with them. The serious question is whether they made themselves rich at the expense of the rest of the population. The Supreme Court certainly found them guilty of trying to create monopolies. Even conservative economists tend to qualify their praise for their entrepreneurial vigor with worry about their competition-crushing ambitions.


pages: 410 words: 106,931

Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra

anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, continuation of politics by other means, creative destruction, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, informal economy, invisible hand, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Nelson Mandela, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, Republic of Letters, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Snapchat, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, traveling salesman, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

In this new totality, Afghan deserts and caves could immediately connect with and short-circuit New York, America’s financial centre, obliterating old distinctions maintained even during the nuclear standoff of the Cold War between internal and external spaces, war and peace, and the West and its enemies. The 9/11 terrorists had been trained by Islamists once sponsored by the CIA and Middle-Eastern plutocrats, and they were armed with America’s own box-cutters and civilian aeroplanes. These ‘barbarians’ who struck at the heart of empire hinted that the ‘global village’ would manifest its contradictions through a state of permanent and uncontrolled crisis. But the shock to naive minds only further entrenched in them the intellectual habits of the Cold War – thinking through binary oppositions of ‘free’ and ‘unfree’ worlds, liberalism and totalitarianism – while reviving nineteenth-century Western clichés about the non-West.

An existential envy of neighbours lingered in unified Germany while the achievement of material success brought tormenting ambivalence in its wake to people who had boasted a great deal of their spiritual culture. Germans seemed less united, and more disconnected from their glorious traditions, than before as they laid railways, built up cities and made money. The gap between organic German Kultur and mechanistic Western Zivilisation seemed to shrink. Many modernizing Germans seemed to resemble too much the unbridled plutocrats and profit-seekers of England, France and the United States. Self-distrust led to more boosting of the Volk, and the fantasy that the people rooted in blood and soil would eventually triumph over rootless cosmopolitans, confirming Germany’s moral and cultural superiority over its neighbours. Thus, Germany generated a phenomenon now visible all over Europe and America: a conservative variant of populism that posits a state of primal wholeness, or unity of the people, against transnational elites, while being itself deeply embedded in a globalized modern world

Poverty, neglect and misery in the French capital, where the Jewish composer Meyerbeer reigned supreme in musical circles, roused Wagner to an abiding hatred of the city: ‘I no longer believe,’ he wrote in 1850, ‘in any other revolution save that which begins with the burning down of Paris.’ Wagner left Paris in 1842 after Rienzi, his early Romantic opera about a failed revolutionary, became a pan-European hit (one enraptured teenage viewer would be Adolf Hitler in 1906). But his exalted duties as a court Kapellmeister in Dresden left him deeply dissatisfied. As an artist with a high sense of his calling, he found himself humiliatingly beholden to bourgeois plutocrats. Identifying the comfortable opera-going philistines of the bourgeoisie as the cause of all evil, Wagner deprecated parliaments and hoped that revolution would bring forth a leader capable of lifting the masses to power, to unscaled aesthetic heights, while creating a new German national spirit. He found his true calling as revolutions broke out across Europe in 1848. ‘I desire,’ he wrote, ‘to destroy the rule of the one over the other … I desire to shatter the power of the mighty, of the law, and of property.’


pages: 1,364 words: 272,257

Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag-Montefiore

anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, California gold rush, Etonian, facts on the ground, haute couture, Khartoum Gordon, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, sexual politics, spice trade, trade route, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, Yom Kippur War

Ottoman statesmen were unsettled and there would be a violent Muslim backlash but, after the Crimean War, the West had invested too much to leave Jerusalem alone. In the last months of the Crimean War, Sir Moses Montefiore had bought the trains and rails of the Balaclava Railway, built specially for British troops in the Crimea, to create a line between Jaffa and Jerusalem. Now, endowed with all the prestige and power of a British plutocrat after the Crimean victory, he returned to the city, the harbinger of her future.14 THE NEW CITY 1855-60 MOSES MONTEFIORE: 'THIS CROESUS' On 18 July 1855, Montefiore ritually ripped his clothes when he saw the lost Temple and then set up his camp outside the Jaffa Gate where he was mobbed by thousands of Jerusalemites firing off guns in the air and cheering. James Finn, whose schemes to convert Jews he had repeatedly foiled, tried to undermine his reception but the liberal-minded governor, Kiamil Pasha, sent an honour guard to present arms.

In Hebrew they were called Mishkenot Shaanim - the Dwellings of Delight - but initially they were preyed on by bandits and their inhabitants were so undelighted they used to creepback into the city to sleep. The windmill did at first produce cheap bread but it soon broke down due to the lack of Judaean wind and Kentish maintenance. Christian evangelists and Jewish rabbis alike dreamed of the Jewish return - and this was Montefiore's contribution. The colossal wealth of the new Jewish plutocrats, especially the Rothschilds, encouraged the idea that, as Disraeli put it at just this time, the 'Hebrew capitalists' would buy Palestine. The Rothschilds, arbiters of international politics and finance at the height of their power, as influential in Paris and Vienna as they were in London, were unconvinced but they were happy to contribute money and helpto Montefiore whose 'constant dream' was that 'Jerusalem is destined to become the seat of a Jewish empire.' * In 1859, after a suggestion from the Ottoman ambassador in London, Montefiore discussed the idea of buying Palestine but he was sceptical, knowing that the rising Anglo-Jewish elite were busy buying country estates to live the English dream and had no interest in such a scheme.

Perhaps in five years and certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.' They did - and he was only five years out. Herzl became a new species of politician and publicist, riding the new railways of Europe to canvass kings, ministers and press barons. His relentless energy aggravated, and defied, a weak heart, liable to kill him at any moment. Herzl believed in a Zionism, not built from the bottom by settlers, but granted by emperors and financed by plutocrats. The Rothschilds and Montefiores initially disdained Zionism but the earliest Zionist Congresses were ornamented by Sir Francis Montefiore, Moses' nephew, 'a rather footling English gentleman' who 'wore white gloves in the heat of the Swiss summer because he had to shake so many hands'. However, Herzl needed a potentate to intervene with the sultan. He decided that his Jewish state should be German-speaking - and so he turned to the very model of a modern monarch, the German Kaiser.


Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood

carbon footprint, delayed gratification, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, financial independence, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Nelson Mandela, plutocrats, Plutocrats, trickle-down economics, wage slave

They took the form of golden calves, of which we didn’t have many in Toronto at that time, and also the form of money, the love of which was the root of all evil. But on the other hand stood the comic-book character Scrooge McDuck — much read about by me — who was a hot-tempered, tight-fisted, and often devious billionaire named after Charles Dickens’s famous redeemed miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. The plutocratic McDuck had a large money bin full of gold coins, in which he and his three adopted nephews splashed around as if in a swimming pool. Money, for Uncle Scrooge and the young duck triplets, was not the root of all evil but a pleasurable plaything. Which of these views was correct? We kids of the 1940s did usually have some pocket money, and although we weren’t supposed to talk about it or have an undue love of it, we were expected to learn to manage it at an early age.

But between Marlowe and Dickens fell the full triumph of the Protestant reformation in England — a movement that had begun earlier, that had taken an English form with Henry the Eighth’s break with the Pope and his subsequent disbanding of the monasteries, and that by Marlowe’s era was incarnate in Elizabeth the First as head of the Church in England. The Protestants continued to gain ground over the next two centuries, and by the nineteenth century, although the landbased English aristocracy still had much power, the merchants and industrialists were replacing them as the biggest plutocrats. How was wealth to be viewed? Was it a sign of God’s blessing, as it had been in the days of Job, or was it, on the other hand, a precious bane — a sign of worldliness and corruption, as in the days of the ascetics and hermits? This was a debate that had been going on within and among various branches of the Christian faith for a long time. The camel squeezing through the eye of the needle was impossible on Earth, some argued, but in Heaven all things are possible, so why couldn’t you have both a fat bank account and a seat at the divine postmortem banquet?


Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America by David Callahan

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, American Legislative Exchange Council, automated trading system, Bernie Sanders, Bonfire of the Vanities, carbon footprint, carried interest, clean water, corporate social responsibility, David Brooks, demographic transition, desegregation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Thorp, financial deregulation, financial independence, global village, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, high net worth, income inequality, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, medical malpractice, mega-rich, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, NetJets, new economy, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Florida, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, short selling, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, unpaid internship, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, working poor, World Values Survey

Most members of Congress who are liberal on social or foreign policy issues also tend to be liberal on economic issues, and vice versa. ADA’s data find something similar. The Democratic Party’s move to the left has not been lost on the public. According to polls, more Americans now view the party as “very liberal” than at any time since the 1960s.8 It is an easy game to zing Democratic leaders for selling out on this or that issue, or to charge that the two parties are indistinguishable tools of a plutocratic overclass. But congressional voting data show that the gap on economic policy between Republican and Democratic members of Congress is greater than at any time in memory. And the gap seems to be widening: not a single Republican supported Obama’s first budget or his stimulus plan or the financial regulatory bill approved by the House in December 2009. At this point, any half-sentient citizen should know that if you want lower taxes c02.indd 47 5/11/10 8:51:57 AM 48 fortunes of change and fewer regulations, you vote Republican.

Battles over tax policy are often imagined to be a pure form of class warfare, with the wealthy unified in a ceaseless quest to keep W 123 c06.indd 123 5/11/10 6:19:56 AM 124 fortunes of change their taxes low, chisel new holes in the tax code, and push the burden of funding government onto the rest of us. Former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston has painted a disturbing picture of a plutocratic cabal working to rig the tax system to benefit a tiny slice of America’s wealthiest households and “cheat everybody else.” His books have been best-sellers in part because they resonate instinctually with what so many Americans believe. Polls have consistently found that a large majority of the public thinks that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes and that tax laws favor the upper class.

Things have become so bad that “the preferences of people in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent impact on the behavior of their elected officials.”4 Or at least that is a conclusion of Unequal Democracy, the authoritative study of politics in the new Gilded Age by the political scientist Larry Bartels. Another major study by the political scientist Martin Gilens eachoed this point: “Influence over actual policy outcomes appears to be reserved almost exclusively for those at the top of the income distribution.”5 The influx of wealthy liberals into politics may serve to mitigate the downsides of such quasi-plutocratic rule by helping to elect Democrats who care about those at the bottom of the economic both.indd 278 5/11/10 6:27:57 AM conclusion 279 ladder, and that’s already apparent in policies enacted by Obama and the Democratic Congress. This is not the same as granting a political voice to the lower classes, however. Indeed, the recent emergence of legions of new prosperous do-gooders, each anxious to write a bigger check than the next liberal billionaire, actually has the opposite effect.


pages: 406 words: 113,841

The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, bank run, basic income, big-box store, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, job automation, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, microcredit, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

ISBN 978-1-56858-955-8 (e-book)1.Poverty—United States.2.Poor—United States.3.Equality—United States.4.United States—Politics and government—2009–I.Title. HC110.P6A54 2013 362.50973—dc23 2013018771 10987654321 This book is dedicated to my darling children, Sofia and Leo. May you always keep your exquisitely fine-tuned sense of fairness. Contents Acknowledgments PROLOGUEA Scandal in the Making PART ONE: THE VOICES OF POVERTY CHAPTER ONEPoverty in the Land of the Plutocrats CHAPTER TWOBlame Games CHAPTER THREEAn American Dilemma CHAPTER FOURThe Fragile Safety Net CHAPTER FIVEThe Wrong Side of the Tracks CHAPTER SIXStuck in Reverse PART TWO: BUILDING A NEW AND BETTER HOUSE INTRODUCTIONWhy Now? CHAPTER ONEShoring Up the Safety Net CHAPTER TWOBreaking the Cycle of Poverty CHAPTER THREEBoosting Economic Security for the Working Poor CODAAttention Must Be Paid Note on Sources and Book Structure Notes Index Acknowledgments The American Way of Poverty is a book with many benefactors and champions.

It was, Harrington believed, a moral outrage that in a country as wealthy as America, so many people could be so poor, and so many other people could turn blind eyes to their plight.13 Fifty years on, I am chronicling these conditions, as alive today as they were in the early 1960s. For unfortunately, Harrington’s prophecy has come true: conditions are again getting worse for a vast number of Americans, yet for millions of others, it is all too easy to downplay, or to simply ignore, these dire straits. PART ONE The Voices of Poverty CHAPTER ONE POVERTY IN THE LAND OF THE PLUTOCRATS Food pantry manager Ginny Wallace opens up an empty freezer in her Appalachian Pennsylvania pantry. Demand is up; donations down. In the fall of 2011, with hunger rearing up across America, the large freezer bins at the Port Carbon Food Pantry (PCFP), in the small, gritty, Appalachian town of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, were empty. The shelves next to the freezers were also largely barren.

“The narrow politics of winning elections,” she averred, “has less and less to do with connecting with what people really care about, and more to do with raising money and buying media and these kinds of things.” Increasingly, however, large numbers of Americans do seem to be troubled by the political elite’s acceptance of wholesale poverty as a normal part of contemporary life. Members of the overwhelming majority—the much-touted 99 percent—who haven’t benefited from this epic economic change are realizing the plutocratic implications of this shift. “We’re all out here and we all get it,” said 26-year-old Thomas Reges, one of the Occupy D.C. protesters camped out in the capital’s MacPherson Square, in October 2011. “We’re all angry. We all know something is wrong, and we’re trying to make it better.” That month, at the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 37 percent of Americans supported the protests, and only 18 percent opposed them, with the remaining 45 percent presumably neutral.


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The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality by Brink Lindsey

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Asian financial crisis, bank run, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Build a better mousetrap, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, experimental economics, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, inventory management, invisible hand, Jones Act, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, mass incarceration, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, patent troll, plutocrats, Plutocrats, principal–agent problem, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart cities, software patent, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Washington Consensus, white picket fence, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce

Thomas Piketty caused a sensation with his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century by arguing at magisterial length that this tendency reflects the workings of a basic law of economics.12 Because the rate of return on capital (allegedly) outstrips the rate of economic growth, increasing inequality is written into the DNA of capitalism, which means that only massive taxes and transfers are capable of reversing hyper-inequality. In Piketty’s story, government matters only as the answer to inequality, never as a cause. It is also an article of faith among many progressives and liberals that, especially because of the role of money in politics, plutocracy exerts a strong and baleful influence over public policy. If plutocrats are indeed that powerful, does it really make sense that they would only use their power to produce neutral rules that in practice happen to favor the rich? Would it really not occur to them to push for rules that actively redistribute upward? It is this bipartisan blind spot that helps explain the market for a huckster like Donald Trump. Unless we take steps to unrig our liberal democracy, we run a serious risk that the tide of authoritarian populism will extend itself, all the while entrenching the very crony capitalism that it purports to assault.

Specifically, he argued that over the long run, the rate of return on wealth tends to outstrip the rate of economic growth, with the result that the share of national income that compensates owners of capital grows inexorably (and the share that goes to workers shrinks concomitantly). In the United States (as well as elsewhere), recent decades have indeed seen a rise in capital’s share of national income. When Rognlie broke down the aggregate figure of capital income into its component elements, he found that only one component was responsible for the overall rise: housing wealth.28 While the dark sorcery of hedge fund managers and other plutocrats plays a role in the spike in income inequality, it is runaway home prices that have fueled the rising returns to capital. III THE BIG PICTURE OF REGRESSIVE REGULATION So what conclusions can we draw from these four case studies? One clear observation is that regressive rent-seeking is a real and growing problem. Even if the phenomenon is limited to the four policy areas discussed here (and it most certainly is not!)


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Revolting!: How the Establishment Are Undermining Democracy and What They're Afraid Of by Mick Hume

anti-communist, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, central bank independence, colonial rule, David Brooks, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, open borders, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Slavoj Žižek, the scientific method, We are the 99%, World Values Survey

Now, says Kotkin, what we have in both the US and Europe is a New Clerisy of middle-class professionals who dominate politics, culture, education and the media, ‘serving as the key organs of enforced conformity, distilling truth for the masses, seeking to regulate speech and indoctrinate youth’.27 Kotkin observed in the run-up to the 2012 US presidential election that: ‘Many of [the Clerisy’s] leading lights appear openly hostile to democracy … They believe that power should rest not with the will of the common man or that of the plutocrats, but with credentialed “experts” whether operating in Washington, Brussels or the United Nations.’ That hostility to democracy has only intensified over the past few years. The Brexit vote marked a breakthrough revolt of ‘the common man’ and woman against the ‘enforced conformity’ preached by the New Clerisy. That it came as such a shock to the Clerisy was a sign of how little contact they had with the real world occupied by Other People.

Together they make up a class which American writer Joel Kotkin calls ‘the New Clerisy’ – an educated elite self-appointed to play a priestly role in society, ‘serving as the key organs of enforced conformity, distilling truth for the masses, seeking to regulate speech and indoctrinate youth’. The Clerisy are anti-democrats who ‘believe that power should rest not with the will of the common man or that of the plutocrats, but with credentialed “experts” whether operating in Washington, Brussels or the United Nations.’1 These are the new enemies of democracy. They are not goose-stepping about in uniforms but speaking softly and carrying a big intellectual stick to beat us into ‘enforced conformity’. The New Clerisy are more dangerous to Western democracy than any old-fashioned fascist today. R is for a RIGHT, not a privilege.


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Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator

This is not the dystopian superstate of Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” in which all-knowing police stop crime before it happens. But it could be China by 2020. It is the scenario contained in China’s ambitious plans to develop a far-reaching social credit system, a plan that the Communist Party hopes will build a culture of “sincerity” and a “harmonious socialist society” where “keeping trust is glorious.” 5. When tech plutocrats invoke the concept of freedom, what do they mean? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It’s obvious now that the freedom brought to us by the libertarian elite will not come with jobs. The fact that Facebook is on track to generate annual revenues of $20 billion with fewer than fifteen thousand employees speaks volumes. Is Peter Thiel’s idea of corporations—free to reap monopoly profits and operate free from government regulation—what we want for our country?

If I were to predict the future, I would hope to see Tim Berners-Lee’s dream of a “re-decentralized” Internet, one that’s much less dependent on surveillance marketing and that allows creative artists to take advantage of the zero-marginal-cost economics of the Web in a series of nonprofit distribution cooperatives. I have no illusion that the existing business structures of cultural marketing will go away, but my hope is that we can build a parallel structure that will benefit all creators. The only way this will happen is that in Peter Thiel’s “deadly race between politics and technology,” the people’s voice (politics) will have to win. Google, Amazon, and Facebook may seem like benevolent plutocrats, but the time for plutocracy is over. Acknowledgments This book grew out of a speech I gave at the Aspen Ideas Festival in the summer of 2015. Thanks to Walter Isaacson, Charlie Firestone, Kitty Boone, and John Seely Brown for making that possible. My agent, Simon Lipskar, encouraged me to make it into a book and introduced me to my editor, Vanessa Mobley at Little, Brown and Company. It is Vanessa who truly helped me realize the vision of the book, and for that I am ever grateful.


pages: 388 words: 125,472

The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It by Owen Jones

anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, battle of ideas, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, citizen journalism, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Etonian, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, G4S, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, housing crisis, inflation targeting, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, James Dyson, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, Monroe Doctrine, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Neil Kinnock, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, open borders, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, stakhanovite, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transfer pricing, union organizing, unpaid internship, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent

But it would be a mistake to see Staines as leading a crusade against Britain’s ruling elite: far from it. In fact, he is an unapologetic outrider for the wealthiest elements of society. Or, as Staines describes it, he is ‘standing up for the plutocrats of the world: “Haven’t the plutocrats suffered enough?” is my view.’ And this uncompromising support for the interests of the wealthiest lies at the heart of his contempt for democracy. ‘Undermining politicians delegitimizes what politicians can do,’ he says. ‘Fundamentally, it suits my ideological game plan.’ For this mouthpiece for the ‘plutocrats’, democracy is a potentially mortal threat. ‘It doesn’t get me the result I want, and the have-nots vote to take away from the haves, and I don’t think that’s a fair way of doing things … So democracy always leads to – if you have universal franchise – those who don’t have are going to take from those who do have.’


pages: 414 words: 121,243

What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way by Nick Cohen

anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, centre right, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Farzad Bazoft, feminist movement, haute couture, kremlinology, liberal world order, light touch regulation, mass immigration, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, profit motive, Ralph Nader, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, sensible shoes, the scientific method, union organizing, upwardly mobile, Yom Kippur War

I feel quite strongly that the US response, and ipso facto ours, has been at the very least questionable.’ (Even liberal literary editors censor, but they usually dress it up more tactfully than that.) Leftish intellectuals said the attacks were really about Palestine, although none of the hijackers was Palestinian, or an inchoate protest against global capitalism, even though al-Qaeda received the petro-dollars of Saudi plutocrats. All shared an instant reaction to the 9/11 atrocities that they must have been the fault of the United States or the West. Sexist judges used to say that women who went out in miniskirts were ‘asking for it’. Their provocative dress was the ‘root cause’ of their rape. So it was with the intellectual left after 9/11. We ‘had it coming’; we were the root cause of our own murder. In mitigation, you could say that if women wore veils or never went out then the incidence of rape would fall.

Financiers and industrialists accrued fantastic wealth and political status, while the liberal middle classes lingered in jobs their rulers despised for their failure to be market-orientated. Modern democracy was a system which produced results that no longer pleased them. They were less likely than they once would have been to oppose clerical fascist movements and stand up for the best values of their societies, not dodgy dossiers or privileges for plutocrats but the freedoms the liberal-left once died for, and may have to die for again. 4. Fear In 1968 at the start of the narrative of this book, no one – not Kanan Makiya and the revolutionary students, nor the politicians, spies and academics who specialized in international affairs – predicted the wars that would follow the Baathist seizure of power or the extraordinary scope and violence of the Islamist explosion that began with the Iranian revolution.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communism, and the advent of the Web which allowed for even the smallest voice to be heard, everywhere you turned you were told that we were living in an age of unparalleled freedom. You Can't Read This Book argues that this view is dangerously naive. From the revolution in Iran that wasn't, to the Great Firewall of China and the imposition of super-injunctions from the filthy rich protecting their privacy, the traditional opponents of freedom of speech - religious fanaticism, plutocratic power and dictatorial states - are thriving, and in many respects finding the world a more comfortable place in the early 21st century than they did in the late 20th. This is not an account of interesting but trivial disputes about freedom of speech: the rights and wrongs of shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre, of playing heavy metal at 3 am in a built-up area or articulating extremist ideas in a school or university.


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The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy by Dr. Jim Taylor

British Empire, business cycle, call centre, dark matter, Donald Trump, estate planning, full employment, glass ceiling, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, means of production, passive income, performance metric, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ronald Reagan, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Yes, America wanted change, particularly in the 2008 primary election. But the rhetoric of a wealthy elite living dramatically different lives simply didn’t resonate with the American public, even though there is considerable objective truth to it. Indeed, today, we even struggle to find the words to articulate anger over income inequality. During the industrial era, words such as plutomania (an obsessive lust for wealth), plutolatry (the worship of wealth), and plutocrat (someone who exercises power by virtue of wealth) were commonly and angrily used. They all derive from the Greek ploutos, meaning ‘‘wealth,’’ but they are so obscure today that few know their meanings. America’s plutonomy is not on the verge of a revolution, or even a ‘‘throw the bums out’’ vitriol at the ballot box, in part because it culturally ‘‘isn’t us.’’ But there are other important reasons the resentment about how ‘‘the other half lives’’ (more technically, how the other 5 percent lives) has barely simmered, let alone boiled over.

Astor’s 400’’ list, 24 muckrakers, 29 multinational business, 162–164 mutual funds, 8 myths of wealth, 70–71 National Public Radio, 194 nation-state, 155–156 neighbors’ lifestyle, 128, 129–133 Neiman Marcus, 78, 179 net worth, to define wealth, 5 new companies, financing, 113–114 New Deal, 30 New York Times, 64, 66 New Yorker, The, 152 Newsweek, 66 nonprofit organizations, creating, 195 Nordstrom, 78 Northwestern Mutual Life, 148 1–800-FLOWERS, 116–118 optimism, 48 organized politics, mavericks and, 144 Ortega, Amancio, 160 ostracism, 70 Oswald, Andrew, 67 Packard, David, 38–39 Packard, Vance, The Hidden Persuaders, 33 Page, Larry, 196 ‘‘Palm Beach brands,’’ 111 parents desire to please, 171 of wealthy, economic status, 43 passion, 49, 187–188, 192 passion shoppers, 88–89, 91 Pasteur, Louis, 53 patrons’ lifestyle, 128, 148–153 People, 64, 66, 142 perceptual map, of lifestyle segments, 129 Perot, Ross, 210–211 persistence, 48 personal legacies, 188–190 philanthrobusiness, 194–197 philanthropy, 149, 190 children’s involvement in, 182–183 and purchasing decisions, 110–111 transformational giving, 190–194 Phillips, Kevin, Wealth and Democracy, 25, 202, 206 philosophical perspective on money, 128 planning purchases, 80, 173 family team approach to, 179–182 Plato, The Republic, 205 Plum TV, 216–217, 219–220 plutocrat, 208 plutolatry, 208 plutomania, 208 plutonomy, 200 future in U.S., 201–205 and politics, 209–213 and two economies, 214–216 Poetry magazine, 193–194 politicians, entrepreneurs as, 210–211 Index poverty in 1920s, 30 power of wealthy, in early 20th century, 28 prenuptial agreement, 54 presidency, 29 prices, 79 problem-solving approach, 48 Procter & Gamble, 33 productivity, 38 products, retail and online prices, 85 professional advice, lack of reliance on, 74 profit margins, 103 property for services, 22 psychological perceptions, 33 psychological research, 48 public perceptions of wealthy, 17–18 Pure Food and Drug Act (1906), 26 Putnam, Robert, 199 quality and brands, 109 of life, 173 symbols of, 165 rags-to-riches, 24 Ralph Lauren, 111 Rand, Ayn, Atlas Shrugged, 21 Rauch, Jonathan, 212 Reagan, Ronald, 202, 207 ‘‘Reagan Revolution,’’ 36–37 real estate investments, 42 Reich, Robert, Supercapitalism, 31 ‘‘reinventment,’’ 186 relationships, 75 of globizens, 161 of patrons, 151 of wrestlers, 135 religious services, 64 Republic, The (Plato), 205 Republicans, 151, 209–210 research-driven shopping by teens, 179 responsibility, money and, 128 retail stores, 78, 79 high-end designers in mass market, 94 retirement, 185 ‘‘retirement age,’’ 187 239 revolutions, 209 Richemont, 95 Roaring Twenties, 29 Robb Report, 64, 143, 146 robber baron, 25 Rockefeller, John D., 26, 27, 28 Rockefeller family, 35 Rodriguez Group, 215 Rome, 205 Romney, George, 212–213 Romney, Mitt, 212–213 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 29, 30 Roosevelt, Theodore, 29 Royal Delft, 101 rugged individualism, 206 Russell, George, 147–148 Russell 2000 Index, 148 St.


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A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary by Alain de Botton

Airbus A320, fear of failure, invention of the telephone, liberation theology, Pearl River Delta, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Silicon Valley

Fuel hoses were attached to its wings and the tanks replenished with Jet A-1 that would steadily be burned over the African savannah. In the already vacant front cabins, where it might cost the equivalent of a small car to spend the night reclining in an armchair, cleaners scrambled to pick up the financial weeklies, half-eaten chocolates and distorted foam earplugs left behind by the flight’s complement of plutocrats and actors. Passengers disembarked for whom this ordinary English morning would have a supernatural tinge. 4 Meanwhile, at the drop-off point in front of the terminal, cars were pulling up in increasing numbers, rusty minicabs with tensely negotiated fares alongside muscular limousines from whose armoured doors men emerged crossly and swiftly into the executive channels. Some of the trips starting here had been decided upon only in the previous few days, booked in response to a swiftly developing situation in the Munich or Milan office; others were the fruit of three years’ painful anticipation of a return to a village in northern Kashmir, with six dark-green suitcases filled with gifts for young relatives never previously met.


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The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality From the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel

agricultural Revolution, assortative mating, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, colonial rule, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, corporate governance, cosmological principle, crony capitalism, dark matter, declining real wages, demographic transition, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, hiring and firing, income inequality, John Markoff, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, means of production, mega-rich, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, rent control, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Simon Kuznets, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, universal basic income, very high income, working-age population, zero-sum game

They and other junior relatives were automatically entitled to enter officialdom and benefited disproportionately from the recommendation system employed to fill governmental positions. We hear of officials among whose brothers and sons six or seven—in one case, no fewer than thirteen sons—also came to serve as imperial administrators. On the other hand, the same predatory and capricious exercise of political power that turned civil servants into plutocrats also undermined their success. Guan Fu, a highly placed government official, had accumulated a large fortune and owned so much land in his native region that widespread loathing of this preeminence inspired a local children’s song: While the Ying River is clear the Guan family will be secure; when the Ying River is muddy the Guan family will be exterminated! This ditty captured the precarious fortunes of the politically wealthy: more often than not, families that had risen high fell far.

In premodern societies, very large fortunes regularly owed more to political power than to economic prowess. They differed mostly in terms of their durability, which was critically mediated by state rulers’ ability and willingness to engage in despotic intervention. Intense resource concentration at the very top and high inequality were a given, and although wealth mobility varied, this was of little concern to those outside plutocratic circles. Sketched out in the opening chapter, the structural properties of almost all premodern states strongly favored a particular coercion-rich mode of income and wealth concentration that tended to maximize inequality over time. As a result, these entities were often about as unequal as they could be. As I set out in more detail in the appendix at the end of this book, rough estimates for twenty-eight preindustrial societies from Roman times to the 1940s yield an average extraction rate of 77 percent, a rate that measures the actualized proportion of the maximum amount of income inequality that was theoretically possible at a given level of per capita GDP.

The first of these, which we may term the “pessimistic” scenario, is a continuation of the pattern that already characterized the nineteenth century and that dated, in Europe, back to the fading of the Black Death near the end of the Middle Ages and, in the United States, at least to independence—a sequence of successive phases of rising and stabilizing concentration of income and wealth. In that world, Western (and Japanese) inequality would have been high but relatively stable, a never-ending Gilded Age dominated by firmly entrenched plutocrats. In some Western societies as well as across Latin America, inequality would have risen even further, flattening out in others where it was already as high as it could be—most notably, in Britain. This outcome, although perfectly realistic for prolonged periods of stability in premodern history, would seem unduly conservative when it comes to the twentieth century. For several decades prior to 1914, numerous Western countries had already begun to introduce social security legislation and income or estate taxes, extend the franchise, and allow unionization.


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What Went Wrong: How the 1% Hijacked the American Middle Class . . . And What Other Countries Got Right by George R. Tyler

8-hour work day, active measures, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Black Swan, blood diamonds, blue-collar work, Bolshevik threat, bonus culture, British Empire, business cycle, business process, buy and hold, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Diane Coyle, disruptive innovation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, lake wobegon effect, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, performance metric, pirate software, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Two years later, It Happened One Night became the only film ever to win all the major Academy Awards, even though it was far from Frank Capra’s best. He rejected the pessimism of I Am a Fugitive crafted early in the New Deal to present a message of optimism in One Night. Capra’s antagonist was a plutocrat who selfishly resists reforms initially, but its message was uplifting in the end, when Claudette Colbert’s wealthy father abandons his narcissism. As the Great Depression persisted with despair deepening, Capra revised his narrative again in his best work, the nuanced Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).4 The plutocrat businessman Edward Arnold remains corrupt to the end, bending government to his bidding and forcing the hero James Stewart and moviegoers alike to confront the enormous challenge and complexities in bestowing economic sovereignty on families.

There was a pitched uprising in Berlin, bloody insurrections featuring a homegrown Red army occupying the Ruhr in 1920, Saxony, and Thuringia under Bolshevik governments in 1923, and an attempted Communist revolution in conservative Bavaria.50 The westward march of the Red Army itself stalled at the Vistula, thanks to Józef Pilsudski, and southward at the Caucasus, thanks to Kemal Atatürk.51 The weapons were bullets and social reforms, including laws like the eight-hour workday (France 1919) and mandated corporate work councils in 1920, along with unemployment insurance, health, and welfare subsidies. Professor François Furstenburg of the Université de Montréal explains: “The Gilded Age plutocrats who first acceded to a social welfare system and state regulations did not do so from the goodness of their hearts. They did so because the alternatives seemed so much more terrifying.”52 Europe was the battleground against collectivist ideology. Among others, Englishmen John Maynard Keynes and the journalist George Orwell, who authored Animal Farm, were passionate critics of collectivism.

Political scientists such as Larry Bartels writing in Unequal Democracy have concluded that electoral choices and economic consequences are rendered opaque for many voters buffeted by extravagant half-truths.20 And “half-truths” is a kind interpretation of the unprecedented intensity of outright fabrications by the wealthy conservative fringe, such as swift-boaters in 2004 or birthers in 2012, tarring Presidential candidates. Democrats agree, of course, arguing that pecuniary politics enables plutocrats to obfuscate economic options, large donations empowering their hired politicians to exploit social and value issues to bamboozle voters. You may disagree, but some conservatives do agree, including David Brooks, who wrote of this charade and Machiavellian manipulation in January 2012: “The Republican Party is the party of the white working class. They overwhelmingly favor Republicans…. The Republicans harvest their votes but have done a poor job responding to their needs.


pages: 284 words: 85,643

What's the Matter with White People by Joan Walsh

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, clean water, collective bargaining, David Brooks, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, full employment, global village, Golden Gate Park, hiring and firing, impulse control, income inequality, invisible hand, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, mass immigration, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, upwardly mobile, urban decay, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, white flight, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

The 2012 Republican presidential primary helped raise the issue even higher. Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee, looked like the poster child for the top 1 percent, a cross between Richie Rich and Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island. When Romney released 2010 tax returns showing that while he made $21 million off investments, he only paid a 13.9 percent tax rate—a lower rate than middle-class workers—he offered the nation a crash course in our plutocratic tax policy. Unfortunately, some of the politicians who’d worked hardest to protect Romney’s low investment tax rate were Democrats, a complication that hinders the party’s attempt to channel the interests of the 99 percent. Even some of the white working class, the group Ronald Reagan had turned into Reagan Democrats by railing against “welfare queens” everyone knew were black, seemed to be waking up.

The outsized, outraged reaction against the first black president, the guns and the bull’s-eyes, and the threat to use “Second Amendment remedies” to “take our country back” seemed intended to perform the same kind of intimidation, and it cemented Obama’s ties to his African American base. Yet racial politics got really mixed up when black progressives started openly criticizing the president. In June 2011, longtime lefty gadfly and Princeton professor Cornel West attacked Obama as a “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” West derided Obama in tawdry racial terms, claiming he was afraid of “free black men” due to his white ancestry and years in the Ivy League. “He feels most comfortable with upper-middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy, and very effective in getting what they want,” West charged. Oy. The Jews again. The controversy looked like progressives devouring their own tails.


pages: 316 words: 87,486

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American ideology, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, Burning Man, centre right, circulation of elites, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, George Gilder, gig economy, Gini coefficient, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral panic, mortgage debt, Nelson Mandela, new economy, obamacare, payday loans, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, pre–internet, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Republic of Letters, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, union organizing, urban decay, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, young professional

From Big Pharma to Silicon Valley, everyone in the C-suites knows that this is the path to success today. “Competition is for losers,” they say. Unless your startup has a plan for cornering and using market power, you can forget about interest from venture capital.25 Tolerating such practices has had obvious consequences, both in our everyday economic lives—where citizens face unchallengeable economic power everywhere from beer to bookselling—and in terms of the gradual plutocratization of society. Unrestrained corporate power has naturally yielded unrestrained wealth for corporate leaders and their Wall Street backers. Barack Obama could have changed this, and by extension, changed the political climate of the country merely by deciding to enforce the nation’s laws in the same way that administrations before Reagan did. The antitrust laws themselves were written a century ago and are still on the books.

They knew which things were necessary to make up a liberal movement, and all of the ingredients were present: well-meaning billionaires; grant makers and grant recipients; Hollywood stars who talked about social media; female entrepreneurs from the third world; and, of course, a trucked-in audience of hundreds who clapped and cheered enthusiastically every time one of their well-graduated leaders wandered across the screen of the Jumbotron. The performance of liberalism was so realistic one could almost believe it lived. CONCLUSION Trampling Out the Vineyard Were you to draw a Venn diagram of the three groups whose interaction I have tried to describe in this book—Democrats, meritocrats, and plutocrats—the space where they intersect would be an island seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts called Martha’s Vineyard. A little bit smaller in area than Staten Island but many times greater in stately magnificence, Martha’s Vineyard is a resort whose population swells each summer as the wealthy return to their vacation villas. It is a place of yachts and celebrities and fussy shrubbery; of waterfront mansions and Ivy League professors and closed-off beaches.


pages: 362 words: 86,195

Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet by Joseph Menn

Brian Krebs, dumpster diving, fault tolerance, Firefox, John Markoff, Menlo Park, offshore financial centre, pirate software, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular electronics, profit motive, RFID, Silicon Valley, zero day

Joe Serio, who probed organized crime for the old Soviet government and then headed the Moscow office of private security firm Kroll Associates, describes organized crime, business, and government as so intertwined as to make unraveling the strands impossible. Just as the powerful English nobility during the long-ago Wars of the Roses picked figurehead contenders for the throne who suited their needs, the richest mobs in Russia championed candidates for federal office. The big difference between the Russian Federation’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, and his successor, Vladimir Putin, is that the outside plutocrats were in charge of Yeltsin, while Putin is in charge of the plutocrats, centralizing corruption. Preoccupied with terrorism, wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Georgia, and Russian oil production, the West has done very little to press Russia for action on cybercrime. As a result, the government faces few consequences for its sordid alliances. THE BENEFITS TO STATE-SPONSORED CYBERCRIME, on the other hand, are vast. Starting with the theoretical and moving toward absolute certainty: primarily Eastern European gangs possess about half of the world’s credit card numbers, according to the head of the Justice Department’s computer crime section, though they haven’t used most of them.


pages: 283 words: 81,163

How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present by Thomas J. Dilorenzo

banking crisis, British Empire, business cycle, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, Norman Mailer, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, wealth creators, working poor, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

Indeed, author and filmmaker Michael Moore has become a wealthy man by making outrageous and unsupportable claims about supposedly evil capitalists and by promoting socialism, and he is just one of many people spreading myths about capitalism. These myths are inflicting great costs on the American economy and society. The more Americans feel that capitalism needs to be reined in, or that the public has no say in an economy that is largely in the hands of “plutocrats,” the more the government is called on to regulate the economy. Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, is exactly right: Because of a widespread misunderstanding of what capitalism is, our leaders—and also much of the general public—incorrectly blame capitalism for any economic problems we face. Consequently, they are all too quick to recommend bigger government as the “solution.” Sure enough, in the wake of the corporate accounting scandals that became public starting in the late 1990s, anticapitalist demagoguery has become pervasive.

The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls.3 These are the facts that the neo-Marxist propagandists ignore when bashing capitalism as a zero-sum game in which “somebody wins, somebody loses.” CONSUMER SOVEREIGNTY We all observe corporate executives, bankers, and businesspeople in general managing the day-to-day affairs of business, from the smallest dry cleaner to the largest multinational corporation. This has led many to believe that they—the public—have no say in their economy, which is largely in the hands of these “plutocrats.” But this is a myth, for as Mises pointed out: Neither the entrepreneurs nor the farmers nor the capitalists determine what has to be produced. The consumers do that. If a businessman does not strictly obey the orders of the public as they are conveyed to him by the structure of market prices, he suffers losses, he goes bankrupt. . . . Other men who did better in satisfying the demand of the consumers replace him. . . .


pages: 241 words: 83,523

A Swamp Full of Dollars: Pipelines and Paramilitaries at Nigeria's Oil Frontier by Michael Peel

banking crisis, British Empire, colonial rule, energy security, informal economy, Kickstarter, megacity, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, trade route, UNCLOS, wage slave

By then, their families were assured of perpetual power and praiseworthy endowments to charitable foundations. Viewed in this light – and that of the more recent cycle of Wall Street profiteering and subsequent chaos – the grand corruption of Abacha and his venal predecessors is not so far removed from the Western capitalist tradition as it might appear. The difference is that, whereas the nineteenth-century US plutocrats left behind productive companies – some of which now export Nigeria’s oil – the Abacha organization presided over the mass impoverishment of one of the world’s most populous nations. The oil money simply disappeared from the country, with the willing assistance of some of the world’s leading banks. Since civilian rule returned, no one knows how much money from Nigeria’s record receipts from crude 132 A SWAMP FULL OF DOLLARS has flown to foreign accounts in the hands of officials like the former Bayelsa governor Alamieyeseigha.

The steep drop in the oil markets amid looming recession in leading economies – the price plunged from $132.55 a barrel in July 2008 to $40.76 in December – promised further problems for the leader and his restless country. The sense of political drift was captured by a dark popular joke about the renaming of the notoriously unreliable National Electric Power Authority as the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PLC). As the initials were switched, so did what they were said to stand for: ‘Never Expect Power Anytime’ became ‘Problem Has Changed Name (Please Light Candle)’. Home-grown plutocrats like the billionaire Aliko Dangote flourished, along with other merely well-off members of the sizeable business class, but there were scant signs of relief for the masses. A little over a year into the new administration, a lawyer friend of mine not given to histrionics wrote me a desperate e-mail begging the Western media to draw attention to a country that was ‘fast slipping under the firm control of elements intent on ensuring that the people remain mired in poverty and decay’.


pages: 261 words: 81,802

The Trouble With Billionaires by Linda McQuaig

"Robert Solow", battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, Build a better mousetrap, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, employer provided health coverage, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the telephone, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, laissez-faire capitalism, land tenure, lateral thinking, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Vanguard fund, very high income, wealth creators, women in the workforce

‌1 ‌Return of the Plutocrats Imagine this: you are paid a pound every second. After one minute, you would have £60. After one hour, you would have £3,600. If this spectacular rate of pay continued day and night, it would take twelve days for you to become a millionaire – something beyond most people’s wildest dreams. But how long would it take to become a billionaire? Well, at that rate, it would take almost thirty-two years. This little game helps illustrate that being a billionaire isn’t just beyond most people’s wildest dreams; it’s likely beyond their comprehension. It also highlights how odd it is for society to regard the accumulation and retention of such vast material wealth by one individual as an appropriate aspiration. Here’s another thought experiment that illustrates how far beyond our regular comprehension the size of a billionaire’s fortune is: imagine how long it would take Bill Gates, typically considered the world’s richest man, to count his $53 billion.

It seems utterly appropriate, then, to use another man-made system of laws – the tax system – to ensure that the benefits are distributed much more widely, so that this vast inheritance ends up, not in the hands of a privileged few, but in the hands of many. Equality of opportunity – a concept that is almost universally admired and celebrated – has sadly become more myth than reality in recent years. As it risks fading further into mythology, educational trust funds could put real heft behind the notion that society is a community and that all in the community should have a chance to live their dreams. ‌ ‌Notes 1 Return of the Plutocrats ‌1 This was noted by Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton. ‌2 Heather Stewart, ‘George Osborne’s austerity is costing UK an extra £76 billion, says IMF’, The Observer, 13 October 2012. See also Aditya Chakrabortty, ‘The graph that shows how far David Cameron wants to shrink the state,’ The Guardian, 15 October 2012. ‌3 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/19/super-rich-fight-poverty-oxfam. ‌4 Richard Murphy, ‘In wooing French tax exiles, Cameron makes a mockery of democracy’, guardian.co.uk., 19 June 2012. ‌5 C.


pages: 282 words: 81,873

Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein

23andMe, 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, bank run, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, California gold rush, cashless society, colonial rule, computer age, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Extropian, gig economy, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hacker house, hive mind, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, passive income, patent troll, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, platform as a service, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, RFID, Robert Mercer, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, Snapchat, social software, software as a service, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telepresence, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, X Prize, Y Combinator

Some who had been paying close attention to the techno-utopian scene were less than astonished to see Anissimov, long praised as a rising star, go the Nazi way. After reading one of Anissimov’s neoreactionary rants in 2014, the academic blogger Dale Carrico published the following told-you-so: Now, for years and years before what you call Anissimov’s “jolt to the right” I have accused him of advocating a reactionary politics of plutocratic corporatism, fetishistic militarism, and anti-democratic eugenic and technocratic elitism … Of course, he whined and denied this as name calling but never responded to the substance of what I was saying. Now he lets his fascist freak flag fly, I can’t say that I am at all surprised. Anissimov took to posting paranoid white supremacist rants on Twitter. Why, he asked, do “blacks get your own continent”?

Any technology that reduces the need for human labor and increases economic productivity, moreover, must be good; even if it means that more workers starve for want of employment, the superior technological society benefits from this “advance” because the productivity gains that are captured and hoarded as profits may be reinvested in still more new technologies that reduce the social need for human labor while increasing profits. Does the perpetuation of unjust class structures by technological means count as “progress” in any meaningful sense? Clearly not. But Thiel, like so many techno-utopian plutocrats, assumes that since gadgets had made him rich, gadgets must save the world. “The only way forward for the developed countries is rapid innovation and progress in the advanced technologies,” he said at the 2009 Singularity Summit, held at the 92nd Street Y in New York and organized by Mike Anissimov. Otherwise, he warned, the economy would collapse completely. In his mind, as in Bradbury’s, accelerating the arrival of the Singularity was “the single most important political, cultural, economic, technological question that we have.”


pages: 269 words: 83,307

Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits by Kevin Roose

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Basel III, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, discounted cash flows, Donald Trump, East Village, eurozone crisis, fixed income, forward guidance, glass ceiling, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, hedonic treadmill, jitney, knowledge worker, new economy, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, selection bias, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Predators' Ball, too big to fail, urban planning, We are the 99%, young professional

To her, the great tragedy of Wall Street wasn’t that it was evil and greedy, but that it was fundamentally boring, a place populated by the kinds of uncurious corporate drones who had no lives outside of work, who watched CNBC out of personal interest and considered Berkshire Hathaway’s annual investor letter the ne plus ultra of high literature. It was those people—and not insider-trading felons, book-cooking CEOs, or sneering plutocrats—who made her want to run screaming from the finance world. Whenever Chelsea contemplated building a career at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, she thought about Wendy, a vice president in her group. Wendy was a notorious workhorse, and she routinely pulled hundred-hour weeks, which was typical for a first-year analyst but unheard-of for someone who, like her, was in her mid-thirties, with a husband and a toddler, and who commuted from the New Jersey suburbs every day.

After all, I know of several top executives who have turned down the group, or who are members but choose not to attend the annual dinners, on the grounds that the skits and jokes are too tasteless to be associated with. There are, in fact, members of the financial elite who want nothing to do with mockery and light-heartedness—who take their responsibilities as employers and guardians of investor capital quite seriously. And many of the analysts I spoke to about the event afterward simply laughed. To them, the idea of a bunch of out-of-touch plutocrats gathering to carry out the rites of a secret fraternity seemed absurd and antiquated. “It sounds like something Occupy Wall Street would invent if they wanted people to hate bankers even more,” one told me. But I am continually scared by the idea that some of the thoughtful, socially conscious young analysts I know will end up succeeding beyond their wildest dreams on Wall Street and will in the process be changed, to the point that the idea of belonging to such a powerful, exclusive group of executives becomes seductive rather than funny.


pages: 324 words: 80,217

The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, charter city, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, ghettoisation, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, helicopter parent, hive mind, Hyperloop, immigration reform, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Islamic Golden Age, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, megacity, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Oculus Rift, open borders, out of africa, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, QAnon, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, women in the workforce, Y2K

The age of stagnation, in this theory, is the fruit of what Brink Lindsey of the Niskanen Institute and Steven Teles of Johns Hopkins University describe as a “captured economy,” in which everything from land-use rules, to exclusionary zoning, to occupational licensing, to ever-expanding intellectual-property protections, to corporate subsidies and tax breaks all converge to create an system that’s basically the worst of socialism and the worst of capitalism conjoined—plutocratic and sclerotic, overregulated and undertaxed, with an upper class enriching itself off rents rather than innovation and a service class that can’t advance beyond its station. The overlap between this more libertarian argument and the left-wing critique of neoliberalism is apparent in one of the urtexts of the post–financial crisis left: French economist Thomas Piketty’s 2013 tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which mined centuries’ worth of statistics to argue that capitalism inherently makes the rich richer (because returns on capital will always be higher than simple economic growth) unless some powerful force intervenes.

The most feared “barbarians” in the Western world today aren’t invaders from the distant steppes; they’re the Rust Belt deplorables voting for Trump, the gilets-jaunes burning shops on the Champs-Élysées, the little Englanders forcing their country into an unexpected Brexit. A great deal of anxious elite commentary about our decadent order assumes that these internal rebels might pull down the system from within, that populists “inside the gates” (assisted by Russian bots and selfish, short-sighted plutocrats) are the existential threat that Western institutions last faced when the Soviet Union was still in business; that the European Union and NATO and America’s Pacific alliances could all be pulled apart by nationalism, and the jungle world of the 1930s could suddenly return. But as we saw in chapter 3, there is very little to suggest that the populist movements are prepared to wield power in any effective way.


pages: 223 words: 10,010

The Cost of Inequality: Why Economic Equality Is Essential for Recovery by Stewart Lansley

"Robert Solow", banking crisis, Basel III, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, mittelstand, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working-age population

Britain and the US in particular came to resemble what Ajay Kapur, head of global strategy at Citigroup in New York, called a ‘plutonomy’—a society in which wealth and economic decision-making is heavily concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority.252 This was what Britain was in Victorian times before the development of full democratic institutions and the emergence of a powerful middle class. It equally applied to the United States during the 1920s. From the 1980s, suddenly able to exercise this plutocratic power, bank bosses effectively came to write their own financial rules in a way which, hardly surprisingly, made them and their executives even richer. In the United States, this process began under President Reagan but accelerated under all subsequent Presidents from Bill Clinton onwards. As Richard N Goodwin, former speechwriter to JF Kennedy put it as early as 1997, ‘The principal power in Washington is no longer the government or the people it represents.

Money establishes priorities of action, holds down federal revenues, revises federal legislation, shifts income from the middle class to the very rich’.253 Joseph Stiglitz, an adviser to President Clinton, claimed that even under Clinton, ‘finance reigned supreme’ and the President ‘buckled to pressure from big financial interests’ time and again. 254 Clinton may well have wanted to check the plutocratic power wielded by US businessmen but the key influences in the framing of his economic policy came not from within the Democratic Party but from Wall Street. Commentators have likened the power trend to a return to the last decades of the nineteenth century when money power was at its height. Asked in 2002 if the wealthy had captured more political power than in the gilded age and the 1920s, the political scientist Kevin Phillips replied, ‘It is a pretty close run thing between now and then.


pages: 499 words: 152,156

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

conceptual framework, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, financial independence, Gini coefficient, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, land reform, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, Mohammed Bouazizi, plutocrats, Plutocrats, rolodex, scientific worldview, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, young professional

The Chinese people no longer want for food—the average citizen eats six times as much meat as in 1976—but this is a ravenous era of a different kind, a period when people have awoken with a hunger for new sensations, ideas, and respect. China is the world’s largest consumer of energy, movies, beer, and platinum; it is building more high-speed railroads and airports than the rest of the world combined. For some of its citizens, China’s boom has created stupendous fortune: China is the world’s fastest-growing source of new billionaires. Several of the new plutocrats have been among the world’s most dedicated thieves; others have been holders of high public office. Some have been both. For most of the Chinese people, however, the boom has not produced vast wealth; it has permitted the first halting steps out of poverty. The rewards created by China’s rise have been wildly inconsistent but fundamentally profound: it is one of the broadest gains in human well-being in the modern age.

Among them was Xu Zhiyong, who was detained and accused of “gathering people to disrupt social order.” When people stood up on Xu’s behalf, they, too, were arrested; an investor named Wang Gongquan, who had made billions in venture capital, organized a petition for Xu’s release but was arrested on charges of disturbing public order. Wang’s bare-handed fortune and outspoken comments had attracted a large following online, but the authorities were especially uneasy when plutocrats linked up with activists or took an interest in politics. In September the government adopted a novel approach to taming the unruly power of the Web: the Supreme People’s Court issued a rule stating that any “false defamatory” comment viewed five thousand times, or forwarded five hundred times, could result in a prison sentence of up to three years. Now that the state was struggling to prevent people from speaking out, it would try to prevent them from repeating what they heard.

In the short term, the Party could succeed at silencing its critics, but in the long term, that was less clear, especially if segments within the Party recalculated their own risks and rewards for loyalty and decided that they had more to gain by siding with the people. China, once known for its conformity, was home to fiercely opposing forces: Western-style liberals against nationalist conservatives; incumbent apparatchiks against restless plutocrats; Ant Tribes against Bobos; propagandists against cyber-utopians. The question was whether the tensions would be channeled outward, at the West, or inward, at the state. For the moment, it was difficult to envision a coherent challenge to the Party: though the Chinese middle class was galvanized by many of the issues that had animated its peers at the advent of democracy in Taiwan, the Philippines, and South Korea (consumer rights, the environment, labor rights, housing prices, free speech), in China there were very few formal organizations in which people could assemble and produce a coordinated alternative to Party rule.


pages: 562 words: 146,544

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Berlin Wall, Burning Man, call centre, digital map, disruptive innovation, double helix, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, high net worth, invisible hand, McMansion, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, peer-to-peer, plutocrats, Plutocrats, RFID, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, web application

The infrared camera miles away showed the man’s car heading south toward the interstate. There were two occupants. Gragg scanned the target car’s license plate and retrieved its DMV records. Federal Fleet Vehicle—no data Gragg smiled to himself. The Daemon Task Force, eh? He was closing in on them. He was mapping the topology of the plutocrats’ elusive network—The Money Power. They were up to something. This man would help Gragg find out what. These plutocrats were men of limited vision who needed to be swept aside. Men from a previous age. An age of oil and heavy industry. But the distributed technocracy would soon rise, and Gragg would be there at Sobol’s side for the dawn of a new age. An age of immortals. A second Age of Reason. Gragg’s eyes narrowed at the video image of the man’s car.

All to conceal one simple fact: the assumptions upon which our civilization is based are no longer valid. If you doubt me, ask yourself: why was I able to accomplish this?” Sebeck shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “But what if we corrected civilization’s weakness—as painful as that correction might be?” Sobol changed expression, looking more relaxed. “But you’re probably confused. Why did I frame you? It’s simple: you were bait—bait that they took. The weak hide their weakness. By now, the plutocrats have put their money in safer havens, and I have closely watched this transfer. Now they are more vulnerable than ever.” Sobol grinned humorlessly. “You were my Trojan horse, Sergeant.” Sebeck’s fingernails nearly tore through the chair leather. “Fuck you! You destroyed my life!” Sobol’s spectre flickered almost imperceptibly. “An analysis of your voice patterns is revealing. Prosody tells me that you are agitated.


pages: 372 words: 92,477

The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State by John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Asian financial crisis, assortative mating, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, cashless society, central bank independence, Chelsea Manning, circulation of elites, Clayton Christensen, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, Etonian, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liberal capitalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, Nelson Mandela, night-watchman state, Norman Macrae, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, old age dependency ratio, open economy, Parag Khanna, Peace of Westphalia, pension reform, pensions crisis, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, profit maximization, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, Skype, special economic zone, too big to fail, total factor productivity, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working-age population, zero-sum game

When Britain’s coalition government came to power, it cut infrastructure investment (which is generally regarded as a good way of generating economic growth) along with other kinds of spending. 6. TO THOSE WHO HAVE, MORE SHALL BE GIVEN The sixth sin is the fact that government is no longer “progressive.” Far from being focused on those who need it most, such as the poor and the young, government spending cascades toward the old and the relatively well off. In California both the plutocrats and the poor do badly out of ­government. The former pay for a big chunk of it, especially through capital-gains taxes. The poor may not pay much income tax, but they don’t attract much public spending either. That goes mainly to middle-­income Californians. They attend better schools than poor Californians. Their streets often have more police (there are more volunteers to cruise around Beverly Hills than Compton).

CRONY CAPITALISM BY THE POTOMAC If privatization is the American Right’s great blind spot, subsidies for the wealthy is the Left’s. Dismantling the web of handouts for the rich and powerful should be at the very top of progressive America’s agenda—in the same way that royal patronage was the great enemy for John Stuart Mill. So far the Left has concentrated on trying to raise taxes in the name of redistribution. It would be much better to focus on dismantling the welfare state for America’s plutocrats. There are two rich targets. The first is crony capitalism: all those subsidies for well-connected industries. The second is the personal tax system, which, as we have seen, is massively distorted by aid to the rich. Fixing these things would simultaneously slim Leviathan and help it focus its energies on people who actually need its help. Crony capitalism represents the most egregious example of Olson’s law.


pages: 354 words: 92,470

Grave New World: The End of Globalization, the Return of History by Stephen D. King

9 dash line, Admiral Zheng, air freight, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bilateral investment treaty, bitcoin, blockchain, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, income per capita, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Kickstarter, Long Term Capital Management, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, old age dependency ratio, paradox of thrift, Peace of Westphalia, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Skype, South China Sea, special drawing rights, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, trade liberalization, trade route, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Lower borrowing costs enable governments more easily to meet their fiscal ambitions without having to make painful political decisions regarding spending programmes or tax rates. Other winners include those who have large holdings of financial wealth in the form of equities, government bonds or corporate debt. Quantitative easing is designed to increase the value of such assets, making the world’s financial plutocrats even more plutocratic. Then there are the providers of high-yield products who are likely to do well selling (or perhaps mis-selling) their products to a public too often unwilling or unable to recognize the risks involved. Companies and households with mortgages should also benefit, but if debts are very high and growth prospects appear not very good, the ability to generate a significant recovery in either investment or consumption may be unusually low – as, indeed, it has proved.


pages: 352 words: 90,622

Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security by Sarah Chayes

Celtic Tiger, colonial rule, crony capitalism, drone strike, failed state, income inequality, microcredit, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, structural adjustment programs, trade route, ultimatum game, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, young professional

See also John of Salisbury’s description of the pope: “The Roman pontiff himself is burdensome and almost intolerable to everyone, since . . . he erects palaces and parades himself about not only in purple vestments but in gilded clothes.” John of Salisbury, Policraticus, trans. Cary J. Nederman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), bk. 6, chap. 24, p. 133. 4. Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. (into French) Marie Gaille-Nikodimov (Paris: Librairie générale française, 2000), p. 131. 5. By 2014, the pattern was even visible to the mainstream Economist Magazine. See “Our Crony Capitalism Index: Planet Plutocrat,” March 15, 2014. Chapter Seven: Variation 1 1. Shana Marshall and Joshua Stacher, “Egypt’s Generals and Transnational Capital,” Middle East Research and Information Project 262: Spring 2012. 2. Robert Springborg, Naval Postgraduate School professor, quoted in Cam Simpson and Mariam Fan, “Egypt’s Army Marches, Fights, Sells Chickens,” Bloomberg Businessweek, February 17, 2011, http://buswk.co/1mh6qaN. 3.

Julie Scott Meisami (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), p. 112. The trusty John of Salisbury advised against appointing “those who cannot, or indeed disdain to, be content with a little,” for they will commit the worst extortions. John of Salisbury, Policraticus, trans. Cary J. Nederman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), bk. 5, chap 10, p. 87. See also Crystia Freedland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (New York: Penguin, 2012). For a powerful description of money addiction from someone who suffered it, see Sam Polk, “For the Love of Money,” New York Times, January 19, 2014. 5. On the African Peer Review Mechanism, see: http://aprm-au.org/ 6. Béatrice Hibou, La force de l’obéissance: économie politique de la répression en Tunisie (Paris: Éditions la Découverte, 2006), p. 79.


Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America by Sarah Kendzior

"side hustle", 4chan, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, borderless world, Chelsea Manning, Columbine, corporate raider, desegregation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Ferguson, Missouri, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Epstein, Julian Assange, Mohammed Bouazizi, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, new economy, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, QAnon, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, Thomas L Friedman, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, white flight, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game

We see the same old men, again and again, vampires feeding on a nation and draining the lifeblood from words like “treason” and “trauma” and “tragedy.” They are buffered by backers who prefer to operate in silence, free from the consequences of scrutiny. There is a reason they call it a criminal underground: you walk over it every day, unaware it exists until the earth shakes below your feet. In the eyes of autocrats and plutocrats, the future is not a right but a commodity. As climate change brings unparalleled crises, the future becomes a rare asset, meant to be hoarded like diamonds or gold. To millionaire elites, many of whom already had an apocalyptic bent, a depopulated world is not a tragedy but an opportunity—and certainly easier to manage as they insulate themselves from the ravages of a literally scorched earth.

Oligarchs are extraordinarily wealthy businessmen who both buffer and are protected by the Kremlin and other dictatorships in the former USSR. (The word “oligarch” is usually used in reference to Russia, but oligarchs are transnational operators.) Oligarchs and government officials have a synergistic relationship aimed at streamlining state corruption and facilitating white-collar crime. Their American analogs are plutocrats: the millionaires and billionaires who wield undue influence over the American political system, making it less democratic in the process. To see what unchecked corporate power looks like without even the pretense of law, you need look no further than Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Trump views Russia’s brutal hypercapitalism with envy. Putin, who stripped Russia of resources and rights, is rumored to be the wealthiest man in the world.6 Trump spent the early months of his campaign praising Putin.


pages: 1,234 words: 356,472

Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton

carbon-based life, clean water, corporate governance, Magellanic Cloud, megacity, nuclear winter, plutocrats, Plutocrats, random walk, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, stem cell, the scientific method, trade route, urban sprawl

It had been a principle for so long not to seek rejuvenation, because it was a purchase of the bourgeois and their plutocrat masters. Society should be structured so that everyone received it regardless of circumstances. The ancient political dream of justice and equality for all, true socialism. For all his active involvement in the cause, the disruption and violence he’d unleashed against the establishment, nothing had changed. But that doesn’t make me wrong. When he thought of the others, ex-friends and comrades, who had betrayed the movement over the decades by abandoning them or worse, he knew what his course must be, despite the intensely human wish to live forever. If even someone as committed as him gave in at the end, what hope ultimately could there be? “I’m tired, Bradley, really truly tired. I’ve seen my ideals crushed by the plutocrats for my whole life. I’m clinging to a lost cause because I don’t know anything else.

Adam stared hard at Sabbah, knowing that once again he was going too far, making too much of an issue out of his own commitment. He didn’t care; this was what he’d devoted himself to. Even now, with all his other priorities, the greater human cause still fueled him. “That’s why I joined this Party, to end that kind of monstrous injustice. That’s why I’ve committed my life to this Party. And that’s why I’ll die, a total death, a member of this Party. Because I believe the human race deserves better than those bastard plutocrats running us like some private fiefdom. How about you, sonny? What do you believe in?” “Thanks for clearing that up,” Nigel Murphy said hurriedly. He stood between Adam and Sabbah. “All of us here are good members of the Party, Huw. We might have joined for different reasons, but we have the same aims.” With one hand he signaled Sabbah and the others to stay at the bar. His other arm pressed lightly on Adam’s shoulder, steering him toward a small door.

He absolutely hated the way everyone else in the world seemed to be doing better than he was, that his background had condemned him to one life lived badly. The way society was structured prevented him from bettering himself. That was what attracted him to the Socialists in the first place, the way they were working to change things so that people like him would get a chance to live decently in an inclusive world. All of which only made this worse. The comrade was actively working to bring down the companies and the plutocratic state that supported them. Which was a lot more than Sabbah ever seemed to do. All the seventh chapter did was hold endless meetings where they argued among themselves for what seemed like hours. Then there was the canvassing, days spent being abused, insulted, and treated with utter contempt by the very people they were trying to help. And of course the protests outside company offices and factories, ambushing politicians.


pages: 598 words: 169,194

Bernie Madoff, the Wizard of Lies: Inside the Infamous $65 Billion Swindle by Diana B. Henriques

accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, break the buck, British Empire, buy and hold, centralized clearinghouse, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computerized trading, corporate raider, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Thorp, financial deregulation, financial thriller, fixed income, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, index fund, locking in a profit, mail merge, merger arbitrage, money market fund, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Small Order Execution System, source of truth, sovereign wealth fund, too big to fail, transaction costs, traveling salesman

Within a day of Lehman’s bankruptcy, the nation’s oldest money market fund was swept away by a tsunami of panicky withdrawals. Before that day ended, regulators were scrambling to rescue the insurance giant AIG, fearing that another titanic failure would shatter whatever trust continued to hold the fragile financial system together. People are already furious, shaking their fists at the arrogant plutocrats who led them into this mess. Then, in a camera flash, Bernie Madoff is transformed from someone whom no one but Wall Street insiders and friends would recognize into a man who is headline news around the world. Longtime clients, comfortable people who have lived carefully and who entrusted all their liquid assets to Madoff, will wake up tomorrow nearly destitute. This is the day the music finally stops for history’s first truly global Ponzi scheme—one that grew bigger, lasted longer, and reached into more corners of the globe than any Ponzi scheme that came before.

Today, The Reserve fund, the nation’s oldest money market fund, “breaks the buck” by reporting a net asset value of less than a dollar a share. The news feeds the growing panic. If this financial crisis can infect even supposedly secure money funds, for decades the middle-class substitute for a bank account, there is no safe haven. At Fairfield Greenwich Group, whose wealthy investors have long thought of Madoff as a sort of plutocratic money market fund, clients are seeking clarity and comfort. Today the group sends out a reassuring “Dear Investor” letter from Amit Vijayvergiya, the chief risk officer. He quickly mentions that the Sentry fund has no exposure to Lehman, Bank of America, or Merrill Lynch. “Currently,” he continues, the Sentry portfolio “is fully invested in short dated US Treasury bills.” In this storm, you can’t get any safer than that.

Some investors wept or raged over what Madoff would mean for the Jews, but many others were sustained by courage and mordant humour. The Jewish Journal’s online news site featured a new blog about the unfolding Madoff case and called it “Swindler’s List”. The crucial puzzle of those early days—the one that would shape public reaction for months—was this: Who were Madoff’s victims? Aside from some worthy charitable and cultural institutions, were they just a few movie stars, plutocrats, and hedge funds, each mourning a $100 million loss? Or had tens of thousands of ordinary middle-income families also lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement savings? Unfortunately, the second scenario was closer to the truth. For every household name like Steven Spielberg, there were a host of dentists and small-time lawyers and retired teachers and plumbers and small business owners.


pages: 98 words: 29,610

From Bauhaus to Our House by Tom Wolfe

Bonfire of the Vanities, Buckminster Fuller, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Peter Eisenman, plutocrats, Plutocrats, The Chicago School, urban renewal

In New York, Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt told George Browne Post to design her a French château at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Sreet, and he copied the Château de Blois for her down to the chasework on the brass lock rods on the casement windows. Not to be outdone, Alva Vanderbilt hired the most famous American architect of the day, Richard Morris Hunt, to design her a replica of the Petit Trianon as a summer house in Newport, and he did it, with relish. He was quite ready to satisfy that or any other fantasy of the Vanderbilts. “If they want a house with a chimney on the bottom,” he said, “I’ll give them one.” But after 1945 our plutocrats, bureaucrats, board chairmen, CEOs, commissioners, and college presidents undergo an inexplicable change. They become diffident and reticent. All at once they are willing to accept that glass of ice water in the face, that bracing slap across the mouth, that reprimand for the fat on one’s bourgeois soul, known as modern architecture. And why? They can’t tell you. They look up at the barefaced buildings they have bought, those great hulking structures they hate so thoroughly, and they can’t figure it out themselves.


pages: 364 words: 99,613

Servant Economy: Where America's Elite Is Sending the Middle Class by Jeff Faux

back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disruptive innovation, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kickstarter, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, medical malpractice, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, new economy, oil shock, old-boy network, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, South China Sea, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, working poor, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

The nation’s elite ignored the signals that the conditions that had promoted widely shared American prosperity since the end of World War II were coming to an end. Just when the nation needed its leaders to take more responsibility for the future, the governing class took less, abandoning itself to an increasingly reactionary politics. The nation’s economic future would no longer be a matter for democratic debate. Its fate would be left to a “free market” manipulated—ineptly, as it turned out—by plutocrats. Americans were slow to see the deceleration of the material progress that they had come to assume was their birthright. This was partly because the decline occurred slowly. As the old story goes, if you place a frog in boiling water, it will jump out, but if you place a frog in room-temperature water and gradually bring the water to a boil, the frog will remain oblivious to its fate. The stagnation of incomes and wages was also obscured because individuals continued to do better over their working lifetimes.

Once they finished the rescue of Wall Street, they began to move back to New York to resume their own moneymaking among grateful colleagues. In the next crisis and/or the next Democratic administration, they will return as seasoned, trusted, well-established people appointed to the critical cabinet jobs, and they will bring with them the aides who will be the next generation of the governing class. At the base of this plutocratic political pyramid is the spiraling cost of electoral campaigns and the importance for politicians of both parties of raising the money from big business in general and Wall Street in particular. In the past, direct corporate support for election campaigns was prohibited by law, and individual contributions to a candidate were capped at two thousand dollars. By having individual executives bundle their contributions with others in the same corporation or industry, the rules could be circumvented to some extent, but they remained important constraints on the development of a full-fledged plutocracy.


pages: 317 words: 101,475

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

Asperger Syndrome, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, deindustrialization, Etonian, facts on the ground, falling living standards, first-past-the-post, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mass immigration, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, pension reform, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, Right to Buy, rising living standards, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working-age population

By looking at what has happened to the traditional sporting passion of working-class Britain, we can get a good idea of the cultural impact of chav-hate. The 'beautiful game' has been transformed beyond recognition. Although major clubs shifted away from their origins long ago---for example, Manchester United was founded by railwaymen-they remained deeply rooted in working-class communities. Footballers were generally boys plucked from the club's local area. Unlike the spoiled plutocrats that some Premier League players have become, for much of the twentieth century 'footballers were often worse off than the crowds watching them from the terraces on a Saturday,' as footballer Stuart Imlach's son has written." Back in the early 1950s, there was a maximum salary for players of just £14 a week during the season-not very much over the average manual wage--and only one in five players were lucky enough to earn that.

At its heart, the demonization of the working class is the flagrant triumphal ism of the rich who, no longer challenged by those below them, instead point and laugh at them. As this Conservative-led government pushes ahead with a programme of cuts that makes the working class pay for the crimes of the elite, they have much to laugh at. But it does not have to be this way. The folly of a society organized around the interests of plutocrats has been exposed by an economic crisis spar ked by the greed of the bankers. The new class politics would be a start, to at least build a counterweight to the hegemonic, unchallenged class politics of the wealthy. Perhaps then a new society based around people's needs, rather than private profit, would be feasible once again. Working-class people have, in the past, organized to defend their interests; they have demanded to be listened to, and forced concessions from the hands of the rich and the powerful.


pages: 354 words: 99,690

Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse: And Other Lessons From Modern Life by David Mitchell

bank run, Boris Johnson, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, don't be evil, double helix, Downton Abbey, Etonian, eurozone crisis, haute cuisine, Julian Assange, lateral thinking, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, sensible shoes, Skype, The Wisdom of Crowds, WikiLeaks

These are statistics I don’t understand and can’t affect, but have nevertheless come to care about and follow obsessively, like a gloomy but weirdly addictive soap opera in a foreign language. In a time of want, we all become interested in where the remaining money is going, and who’s doing well amid the ruins. This wealth-fixated chapter explores anger at a highly paid teacher, the justification for stratospherically paid executives, how a little cash goes a long way in politics, a plutocrat banker’s embarrassment at conspicuous consumption, and some unhealthy ideas for having fun on a budget. Save thinking about those less fortune than yourself for Christmas. The rest of the year is devoted to the livid contemplation of the arseholes who’ve got the cream (to quote the caption from an anal sex video screengrab). * Not everyone is screwed by the credit crunch. Every cloud has a silver lining, every repossession requires the employment of several bailiffs, suicide attempts keep nurses in work and on each pile of rotting, bloated corpses is a swarm of plump rats.

A lot of people just find it hard to understand why there is such a big differential between what the man in the street earns and what senior business people earn.” So the problem, according to Howe, is a lack of understanding. Well, the first thing to clear up is the distinction between the “man on the street” and the “man in the street”. It’s quite important. I don’t think many people are complaining that bankers earn more than the homeless. This “society problem” can only be exacerbated by the fact that, from the plutocrat banker’s vantage point, it seems, the income of someone begging on the street and that of the average passer-by are indistinguishably negligible. But I don’t think that’s the lack of understanding Geoffrey Howe was referring to. It was deft of him to liken Nationwide’s highly paid executives to pop stars and footballers. “Let’s spread the hate,” he was probably thinking. And, of course, the huge earnings of some professional sportsmen and musicians wind a lot of people up, particularly now times are hard.


pages: 831 words: 98,409

SUPERHUBS: How the Financial Elite and Their Networks Rule Our World by Sandra Navidi

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, assortative mating, bank run, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Blythe Masters, Bretton Woods, butterfly effect, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, diversification, East Village, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, family office, financial repression, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google bus, Gordon Gekko, haute cuisine, high net worth, hindsight bias, income inequality, index fund, intangible asset, Jaron Lanier, John Meriwether, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, McMansion, mittelstand, money market fund, Myron Scholes, NetJets, Network effects, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, Parag Khanna, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, performance metric, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Future of Employment, The Predators' Ball, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, too big to fail, women in the workforce, young professional

For reference, see also: Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2014), 1, 237, Kindle edition. 9. Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer (Chelsea, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing), 3, Kindle edition. 10. Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012), 121, Kindle edition. 11. Nick Hanauer, “The Pitchforks Are Coming... For Us Plutocrats,” Politico, July/August 2014, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.xhtml. 12. Julia La Roche, “Paul Tudor Jones: Income Inequality Will End in Revolution, Taxes, or War,” Business Insider, March 19, 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-tudor-jones-on-inequality-2015-3. 13. Alec Hogg, “As Inequality Soars, the Nervous Super Rich Are Already Planning Their Escapes,” The Guardian, January 23, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/jan/23/nervous-super-rich-planning-escapes-davos-2015.


Free Money for All: A Basic Income Guarantee Solution for the Twenty-First Century by Mark Walker

3D printing, 8-hour work day, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, commoditize, financial independence, full employment, happiness index / gross national happiness, industrial robot, intangible asset, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, longitudinal study, market clearing, means of production, new economy, obamacare, off grid, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Rosa Parks, science of happiness, Silicon Valley, surplus humans, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, universal basic income, working poor

I suspect people will be much more up in arms if they realize that the federal government provides $750 million in corporate welfare to the refining industry, rather than providing a tax deduction of $750 million. In some ways, this should strike us as surprising, since, as we have said, they are exactly equivalent in terms of revenue. All that changes is perception. And issuing a check with “Corporate Welfare” in the title better shines a light onto Washington where the interests of the plutocrats pull so many strings. The total tax deduction works out to 1.025 trillion, and all of these will be eliminated on the present proposal. Our proposed budget takes only 80 percent of this revenue resulting in 820 billion in savings, meaning that there will be 205 billion that can be used to offset the increased tax rate for the most deserving. Exactly how this 205 billion will be spent will be open to negotiation.

So, a married couple would receive $20,000, that is $10,000 each, under BIG. Thus, overall, middle and low income couples will still benefit financially even when these tax loopholes are eliminated. Uniform Payroll and Income Tax An additional $220 billion will be raised if the 12.4 percent payroll tax is applied uniformly. Presently, it magically disappears for incomes above $106,800. If you wonder why it suddenly disappears at this level, ask your favorite plutocrat. Hiking the capital gains tax from 15 percent to 35 percent will raise another $88 billion per year. The fact that capital gains are taxed at such a low rate is one of the more bizarre tax decisions, at least from the perspective of fairness. After all, as Warren Buffett points out, it seems bizarre that those performing mental and physical labor PAYING FOR BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE 33 Table 2.2 Additional revenues by bringing changes to US tax policy Item Debit (in billions) Eliminate 80% of 169 tax loopholes Standard and personal deductions Elimination of joint filing Uniform Payroll Tax Capital Gains Tax raised to labor rate 20% Surcharge on income over $1,000,000 Total revenue increase 820 300 60 220 88 129 1,617 should be taxed at a higher rate than capital gains; capital does not toil or sweat.


pages: 133 words: 31,263

The Lessons of History by Will Durant, Ariel Durant

long peace, mobile money, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Thales of Miletus, Thomas Malthus, trade route

The rate of concentration varies (other factors being equal) with the economic freedom permitted by morals and the laws. Despotism may for a time retard the concentration; democracy, allowing the most liberty, accelerates it. The relative equality of Americans before 1776 has been overwhelmed by a thousand forms of physical, mental, and economic differentiation, so that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is now greater than at any time since Imperial plutocratic Rome. In progressive societies the concentration may reach a point where the strength of number in the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty. In the Athens of 594 B.C., according to Plutarch, “the disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor had reached its height, so that the city seemed to be in a dangerous condition, and no other means for freeing it from disturbances… seemed possible but despotic power.”35 The poor, finding their status worsened with each year—the government in the hands of their masters, and the corrupt courts deciding every issue against them—began to talk of violent revolt.


pages: 364 words: 104,697

Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? by Thomas Geoghegan

Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, collective bargaining, corporate governance, cross-subsidies, dark matter, David Brooks, declining real wages, deindustrialization, ending welfare as we know it, facts on the ground, Gini coefficient, haute cuisine, income inequality, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, McJob, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, pensions crisis, plutocrats, Plutocrats, purchasing power parity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce

So if the jobs are better over there, I have to explain why so many of Europe’s best and brightest end up in Cambridge and Palo Alto, not to mention Manhattan. Of course risk-taking type A’s, alpha males and alpha females, are attracted to the high risk here. But that, too, is a reason why Isabel is better off. The U.S. siphons off the abrasive, hard-charging types who would make her life unpleasant over there. Or let’s say the U.S. is a safety valve. We take in more of the plutocrats as well as those who arrive in sealed boxcars to park the plutocrats’ BMWs. That is, in America, we take in the world’s predators as well as the people they like to prey on. So long as France and Germany can dump their predators over here, those countries are kinder and gentler to people at home. Isabel is safer and better off. 2. Retirement I refer the reader to Teresa Ghilarducci’s wonderful article “The End of Retirement,” still available online (Monthly Review, May 2006).


pages: 453 words: 111,010

Licence to be Bad by Jonathan Aldred

"Robert Solow", Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, framing effect, Frederick Winslow Taylor, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, full employment, George Akerlof, glass ceiling, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nudge unit, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, positional goods, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, spectrum auction, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators, zero-sum game

It has become a large international umbrella organization, a network which has grown over the years and now numbers more than 500 organizations in over 90 countries. As well as advocating free-market economics, the network includes specialist groups ranging from climate-change denialists to pro-tobacco-industry lobbyists. A common theme across the network is the reliance on funding from big corporations and plutocrats. At this point, the conspiracy theories emerge. Beginning with the Mont Pèlerin Society, and culminating in the Atlas Foundation, the conspiracy theorists see the lofty philosophical ambitions of these organizations as mere cover for a secret, long-run plan to protect and then enhance the wealth and influence of rich and powerful business elites. And it is true that these organizations, while formally independent of the rich and powerful, have been bankrolled by them at every step.

Chicken soon became a benchmark game in discussions among Cold War thinkers, game theorists and their students. In 1960 RAND strategist Herman Kahn adopted Chicken as a game to describe the nuclear stand-off in his influential and bestselling 652-page tome, On Thermonuclear War. Russell questioned why playing Chicken for nuclear high stakes seemed morally acceptable in RAND circles, while teenagers playing Chicken for much lower stakes were criticized: As played by youthful plutocrats, the [Chicken] game is considered decadent and immoral, though only the lives of the players are risked. But when the game is played by eminent statesmen … it is thought that the statesmen on one side are displaying a high degree of wisdom and courage, and only the statesmen on the other side are reprehensible.14 In any case, Chicken was not a helpful bit of game-theoretic analysis, because it has two Nash equilibria, the first being ‘your opponent does not swerve, you do’ and the second being ‘you do not swerve, your opponent does’.


Arabs: A 3,000 Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, colonial rule, domestication of the camel, Donald Trump, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, invention of movable type, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, liberation theology, Malacca Straits, mass immigration, New Urbanism, out of africa, Pax Mongolica, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Scramble for Africa, trade route

A sheepskin coat and rawhide sandals once Were all the finery you hoped to own. All glory be to Him who gave you power And taught you how to sit upon a throne! MANY BOOKS INTO ONE If the equitable ideals of ancient Arabia and recent Islam were victims of the new fashions, their greatest victim would be the unity Muhammad had brought about. The wheel of fire would roll on, and it would be given a good hard shove by that first plutocrat of the Islamic half of recorded Arab history, Uthman. Umar was killed in murky circumstances by a slave. With more foresight than his predecessors, the murdered caliph had appointed a committee to nominate a successor. Their choice, Uthman, was a descendant of Umayyah, the sixth-century ancestor of the clan that had run Mecca in the last decades of the ‘Ignorance’. He was thus the first Umayyad caliph, but at least in Sunni circles has escaped the opprobrium that haunts the imminent Umayyad dynasty.

You sent the text of the epitaph off on the south-west monsoon; back came the stone on the north-east monsoon. And there was your dear departed, commemorated indelibly in Arabic script, that vigorous growth that had already spread across Central Asia and over the passes into northern India, and was now putting down roots all around the Indian Ocean’s tropical shoreline. Ordering such a monument was a way of declaring membership of a wealthy and cosmopolitan culture. Today, Chinese plutocrats order Aston Martins; then, oceanic sultans and merchant princes ordered Cambay tombstones. And it was all less bothersome than being sent to Arabia for reburial, as Saladin had done with his father and uncle: with a Cambay stone, Arabia came to you in Qur’anic verses of your choice, executed by the most painstaking Indian craftsmen. The Cambay stones bear more than Arabic words. Most noticeably, the ogival tops of the headstones often contain the image of a bulbous, vase-like glass lamp hanging in a niche.

Campaigns in the south made Delhi the richest Muslim state on earth, awash with gold and slaves, and there took place a migration of which the recent surge of Indians to the Gulf is a mirror image. On occasion, Muhammad Shah sent fleets of ships to the Gulf to recruit Arabs. They gathered round Muhammad Shah, a contemporary wrote, ‘like moths around a candle’. Arab courtiers adorning the royal audience chamber, the Hall of a Thousand Columns, could amass stupendous wealth: in his Delhi palazzo, Ghiyath al-Din had the ultimate plutocrat’s bauble, a gold bath; the buttons of his coat – just one of which would have got his son in Baghdad out of hock – were pearls as big as hazelnuts. Ghiyath al-Din, scion of caliphs, was specially favoured; but Muhammad Shah was besotted with Arabs of whatever background, addressed them all as ‘my lord’, and showered them with gifts. One was always there, however, at his majesty’s pleasure. Among the prominent Arabs who turned up in Delhi in the 1330s was a youth named Ghada, a grandson of Muhanna ibn Isa, the amir of the Arabs in Syria whose loyalty had oscillated between the Mamluk and Mongol superpowers.


Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers by Tom Wolfe

full employment, means of production, plutocrats, Plutocrats, South of Market, San Francisco, Thorstein Veblen, Torches of Freedom

Aristocracies, in the European sense, are always based upon large hereditary landholdings. Early in the history of the United States, Jefferson‟s crusade against primogeniture eliminated the possibility of a caste of hereditary land barons. The great landholders, such as the Carrolls, Livingstons and Schuylers, were soon upstaged by the federal bankers, such as the Biddles and Lenoxes. There followed wave after wave of new plutocrats with new sources of wealth: the international bankers, the realestate speculators, the Civil War profiteers, railroad magnates, Wall Street operators, oil and steel trust manipulators, and so on. By the end of the Civil War, social life in New York was already The Great Barbecue, to borrow a term from Vernon L. Parrington, the literary historian. During the season of 1865-66 there were 600 Society balls given in New York, and a great wall of brownstone missions went up along Fifth Avenue.


pages: 489 words: 111,305

How the World Works by Noam Chomsky, Arthur Naiman, David Barsamian

affirmative action, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, capital controls, clean water, corporate governance, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, glass ceiling, Howard Zinn, income inequality, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, land reform, liberation theology, Monroe Doctrine, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, single-payer health, strikebreaker, Telecommunications Act of 1996, transfer pricing, union organizing, War on Poverty, working poor

That’s conscious evacuation of meaning, and even the left falls into it, talking about how Congressmen vote for the Pentagon because they want jobs for their district. Are jobs what Congressmen are worried about, not profits and public subsidies for firms? In a lead story, the New York Times Week in Review made an amazing discovery: the new kind of “populism”—as practiced by Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan and the like—is different from the old kind of populism. The old kind opposes big corporations and plutocrats; the new kind is big corporations and plutocrats. That you can have a character like Steve Forbes on the national scene without people cracking up with laughter shows how intense the propaganda is. The narcissism of small differences In his book The Twilight of Common Dreams, Todd Gitlin says the left is polarized by identity politics, which he calls the “narcissism of small differences.” He writes, “The right has been building…but the left has been…cultivating difference rather than commonality.”


pages: 404 words: 118,759

The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff

California gold rush, interchangeable parts, Kickstarter, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, new economy, New Journalism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, South of Market, San Francisco, South Sea Bubble, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman

In the midst of this came an outsider from the West to help America find its footing, a folk artist of improbable talent and originality who became, in the words of William Dean Howells, the “Lincoln of our literature.” Broadway on a Rainy Day by Edward & Henry T. Anthony, c. 1865. FIVE It had been thirteen years since Mark Twain last saw New York. When he stepped off the pier onto the city’s icy, congested streets on January 12, 1867, he hardly recognized the place. Here was the nerve center of the new economy, full of buyers and sellers, plutocrats and paupers. The Civil War had unleashed Northern industry. Manufacturers who got rich making Union munitions now made consumer goods, and shipped them by rail to ever-expanding urban markets. In Manhattan, Twain detected a new tempo to everyday life. People didn’t have time to be friendly: they were always in a rush. When a lady got on a crowded streetcar, no man stood up to offer his seat—“no man dreamt of doing such a thing,” Twain wrote, watching America’s most populous city backslide into “original barbarism.”

Nearly every day the papers carried reports of widespread corruption, from the endless scandals of Ulysses S. Grant’s sleazy administration in Washington to the thuggery of Boss Tweed’s Tammany machine in New York. Private greed and public crookedness conspired to create “an era of incredible rottenness,” in Twain’s phrase. Politicians bought elections, stole taxpayer dollars, and cut backroom deals with plutocrats. The country was becoming one big boomtown, an economic frontier of fast, ungovernable prosperity, and everyone wanted in on the bonanza. Twain’s relationship to this dynamic was complex. From living in the Far West, he knew what rapid growth did to a community, how certain moral considerations got lost in the general rush for riches. He knew the mind of a speculator, being one himself. He loved risky ventures, whether betting on mining stock in Virginia City or his own books on the subscription market.


pages: 474 words: 120,801

The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moises Naim

additive manufacturing, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, business cycle, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, deskilling, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, intangible asset, intermodal, invisible hand, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, liberation theology, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, megacity, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, open borders, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, profit maximization, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

Indeed, they are more deeply woven into the patterns and expectations of human society today than they were just a few years or decades ago, and they are challenging the conventional wisdom about what it takes to get, use, and keep power. The question of how that challenge is unfolding, and how the dominant players inherited from the twentieth century are responding to it, will occupy the rest of this book. By no means is big power dead: the big, established players are fighting back, and in many cases they are still prevailing. Dictators, plutocrats, corporate behemoths, and the leaders of the great religions will continue to be an important feature of the global landscape and the defining factor in the lives of billions of people. But these megaplayers are more constrained in what they can do than they used to be in the past, and their hold on power is increasingly less secure. The chapters ahead will show how the micropowers are limiting the choices available to the megaplayers and how in some instances they are forcing them to retreat—or, as was the case during the Arab Spring, even to lose power altogether.

See also ExxonMobil Okolloh, Ory, 100 Oligarchies/oligopolies, 49, 50, 218, 221 Olson, Mancur, 226 Omega, 102 One Foundation, 207 One Million Voices Against FARC, 100 OPEC, 29 Oracle, 167 Orange Revolution, 103 Oren, Amir, 121 Ornstein, Norman, 67 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 88, 183, 185, 201, 249, 254 Orszag, Peter, 223 Orwell, George, 48 Outsourcing, 44, 69, 133, 177, 181, 182, 202 Oxfam, 206, 207, 211 Pakistan, 80, 100, 115, 123, 131, 148 Palestine, 149 Pan Am, 169 Pandora, 212 Paraguay, 155, 209 Pape, Robert, 140 Park, Jay, 149 Parliamentary systems, 30, 78, 89, 91 Partido Popular, 96 Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol, 96 Patrick, Stewart, 138 Patronage, 41, 45 Paulson, John, 101, 161, 190 Pax Americana, 141, 143 Peace, 121, 133, 135, 136, 137, 224 Peace of Westphalia, 35 Peet’s Coffee, 175 Pei, Minxin, 77–78 Pennsylvania State University, 87 Pentagon, 46, 123 Pepsi, 27, 36, 169 Perception, 24, 27 Pereira, Rinaldo, 196 Personal care and hygiene sector, 31 Persuasion, 11, 16, 26, 73 Perth, 181 Pet-food recall, 165 Pew surveys, 68, 147–148, 195, 196 Pharmaceutical companies, 181, 182 Pharr, Susan, 67 Philanthropy, 8, 16, 29, 42, 134, 193, 194, 205–211, 217 venture philanthropy, 208–-209, 210 Philippines, 9, 83, 84, 103, 113, 115, 195 Phillipon, Thomas, 164 Phillips, Tom, 196 Physical assets, 174–175 Pinkovskiy, Maxim, 55 Pinochet, Augusto, 99 Pirates, 12, 29, 107, 110, 118, 126, 226 Pitt, Brad, 207 Pius XII (Pope), 108 Plattner, Marc, 103 Plischke, Elmer, 152–153 Plutocrats, 75 Poland, 12, 82, 84, 92, 151, 152, 172 Polga-Hecimovich, John, 94 Police, 10, 23, 51, 115, 126 Political science, 38 Politics, 4, 10, 13, 16, 29, 31, 61, 63, 102, 219 fragmentation of, 78, 80, 82, 90, 94, 103, 224 geopolitics, 5, 12, 13, 149–150, 157, 235 and gridlock, 77, 80, 223, 242 legal rulings in, 99–100 mandates in, 88, 91, 238 national, 76–106 paralysis of, 222–224 political bosses, 6, 91 political competition, 85, 123, 252–254, 253–254(figs.)


pages: 446 words: 117,660

Arguing With Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future by Paul Krugman

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, cryptocurrency, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, different worldview, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, employer provided health coverage, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, frictionless, frictionless market, fudge factor, full employment, Growth in a Time of Debt, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, index fund, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, large denomination, liquidity trap, London Whale, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, New Urbanism, obamacare, oil shock, open borders, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, universal basic income, very high income, working-age population

According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, in 1955 the real incomes of the top 0.01 percent of Americans were less than half what they had been in the late 1920s, and their share of total income was down by three-quarters. Today, of course, the mansions, armies of servants, and yachts are back, bigger than ever—and any hint of policies that might crimp plutocrats’ style is met with cries of “socialism.” Indeed, the whole Romney campaign was based on the premise that President Obama’s threat to modestly raise taxes on top incomes, plus his temerity in suggesting that some bankers had behaved badly, were crippling the economy. Surely, then, the far less plutocrat-friendly environment of the 1950s must have been an economic disaster, right? Actually, some people thought so at the time. Paul Ryan and many other modern conservatives are devotees of Ayn Rand. Well, the collapsing, moocher-infested nation she portrayed in Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was basically Dwight Eisenhower’s America.


pages: 404 words: 115,108

They Don't Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy by Lawrence Lessig

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, blockchain, Cass Sunstein, Columbine, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, do-ocracy, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, illegal immigration, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Mark Zuckerberg, obamacare, Parag Khanna, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Steven Levy, Upton Sinclair

The literature on democracy’s collapse is endless. For a brilliant analysis, see Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq, How to Save a Constitutional Democracy (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2018). Other favorites include Benjamin I. Page and Martin Gilens, Democracy in America?: What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do about It (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017); Richard L. Hasen, Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016); Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles, The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017); Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die (New York: Crown, 2018); Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010).

Agree or disagree, every citizen should read this book.” —Tim Wu, bestselling author of The Curse of Bigness “A love letter to the American people and a down-to-earth blueprint of an evolving future in which we work together to fulfill the promise of humanity’s most important idea: We the people are endowed with the inalienable right to rule ourselves, free from the tyranny of kings, dictators, plutocrats, or computers.” —Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism “Lessig has long been the leading voice on how corruption undermines American democracy. In this book, he trains his trademark wit and incisiveness on an even bigger problem: Our political institutions, he shows, are deeply unrepresentative. Thankfully, Lessig has an original plan for how to build on the principles of the Founding Fathers to make our institutions serve all Americans.”


pages: 385 words: 119,859

This Is London: Life and Death in the World City by Ben Judah

British Empire, deindustrialization, eurozone crisis, high net worth, illegal immigration, mass immigration, multicultural london english, out of africa, period drama, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Skype, white flight, young professional

The stern classical palace – its columns and preening pediments, fantasizing it is the Acropolis – was once a hospital. But now the Union Jack flutters over the most expensive hotel in London, where every guest has at his disposal a personal, perfectly trained butler. I stand in dim light and imagine the valets in tails throwing open towering old doors – once for wheelchairs, patients and nurses – to sheikhs, oligarchs and plutocrats. But there is no change in the limestone pudding over the road impersonating a Corinthian temple. This is the old palace of the Duke of Wellington. And his aristocratic progeny still use the upper floors above a fusty museum. I am running along the pavement now. I lose them at the mouth of a dingy underpass. The Roma women have scuttled below ground as fast as they can. This is where I hover.

When the one newsagent locks up, under the overhanging colonnade where the Fine & Country estate agent glows, the Bangladeshi boys working there toss out buckets of foul water. I record their contemptuous voices: ‘The beggars they sleep here like mice. We have to keep the thieves away. This water means they can’t sleep until it dries.’ There is only one [X] I still have to cross. I need to know what it feels like to be invisible. I need to know what it means to become unseen on plutocratic boulevards. I need to know what it is like to be glared at like a mangy half-man. This is why I am wearing beggar’s clothes: worn out, third-hand brogues, thin joggers, a torn puffa jacket and a tight woolly hat. The couples flinch and avoid me in the flow. I hover in the shadow of a lamp and flick through the pages of my notebook. My catalogue of invisible nightwalkers. Yesterday, I met a black crack addict in a blue hoodie who attacked the pay phone for some pieces, and then ran away sobbing, like the stickman in the shadows.


pages: 360 words: 113,429

Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence by Rachel Sherman

American ideology, Bernie Sanders, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, estate planning, financial independence, gig economy, high net worth, income inequality, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, mental accounting, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, school choice, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor

It is nearly always used as a dirty word, describing people with an illegitimate belief that they should get whatever they want because of who they are and/or that they can treat other people badly because they have money.22 Finally, representations of both lifestyle choices and personalities cast the rich and famous as completely other, echoing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous dictum that “the rich are different from you and me.” By the same token, rich people are often represented as exotic, as if they live in another country or on another planet from “regular” people. Even relatively serious nonfiction books such as Richistan and Plutocrats reinforce this idea, even in their titles.23 Positive images of wealthy people do exist—especially of male entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Steve Jobs. Yet these positive representations make the same point as negative ones: they reiterate the moral importance of hard work and the moral transgressiveness of elitism and excessive consumption (which has become, a century after Veblen, increasingly associated with wealthy women).

Richistan: A Journey through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. Three Rivers, CA: Penguin Random House. Frankenberg, Ruth. 1993. White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Fraser, Nancy. 2014. “Behind Marx’s Hidden Abode: For an Expanded Conception of Capitalism.” New Left Review 86: 1–17. Freeland, Chrystia. 2012. Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. New York: Penguin. Fry, Richard, and Paul Taylor. 2012. “The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income.” Pew Research Center report, August 1. Available at http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/08/01/the-rise-of-residential-segregation-by-income/. Fussell, Paul. 1983. Class: A Guide through the American Status System. New York: Simon & Schuster.


pages: 693 words: 204,042

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

availability heuristic, back-to-the-land, Black-Scholes formula, Burning Man, central bank independence, creative destruction, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, decarbonisation, East Village, full employment, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, income inequality, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, liquidity trap, Mason jar, mass immigration, megastructure, microbiome, music of the spheres, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, the built environment, too big to fail

They’ve just ignored some of their costs. They’re under huge pressure to sell as low as they can, because every buyer buys the cheapest version of whatever it is. So they shove some of their production costs off their books.” “Can’t they just pay their labor less?” “They already did that! That was easy. That’s why we’re all broke except the plutocrats.” “I always see the Disney dog when you say that.” “They’ve squeezed us till we’re bleeding from the eyes. I can’t stand it anymore.” “Blood from a stone. Sir Plutocrat, chewing on a bone.” “Chewing on my head! But now we’re chewed up. We’re squoze dry. We’ve been paying a fraction of what things really cost to make, but meanwhile the planet, and the workers who made the stuff, take the unpaid costs right in the teeth.” “But they got a cheap TV out of it.” “Right, so they can watch something interesting as they sit there broke.”

The two tall glassine spires just to the south of them spoiled the view, and she hoped, as she always did, that their slight tilt to the east meant they would soon fall over, like dominoes. She hated them as architectural fashion models, skinny, blank, featureless, owned by finance, nothing to do with real life. One giant apartment per floor. People living in glass houses and yet throwing stones. She had heard that most of the owners of these apartments only occupied them a week or two per year. Oligarchs, plutocrats, flitting around the world like vampire capital itself. And of course it was even worse uptown, in the new graphene superscrapers. The men ducked out of the hotello and sat back down around her, all except for the old man, who stood at the railing, elbows on the rail, looking down. The boys sat at his feet, Vlade on the chair next to Charlotte, Franklin and Jojo on the chairs beyond them. A rare chance to rest.


pages: 601 words: 193,225

740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building by Michael Gross

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Bonfire of the Vanities, California gold rush, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, Irwin Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, McMansion, mortgage debt, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, sensible shoes, short selling, strikebreaker, The Predators' Ball, traveling salesman, Upton Sinclair, urban planning

Architectural rendering of Candela and Harmon’s 740 Park Avenue (Drawing courtesy Steven Candela) INTRODUCTION SOMETHING DRAWS THE EYE TO THE COUPLE WALKING INTO AN ITALIAN restaurant on the fringe of Manhattan’s Gold Coast—the Upper East Side rectangle formed by Fifth and Park avenues between Fifty-ninth and Ninety-sixth streets—the man is hunched, halting, and stout, and the woman, stately and sylphic-thin. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” says the Book of Proverbs. The former plutocrat Saul Philip Steinberg and his third wife, Gayfryd, seem to embody that adage. It is clear as they maneuver their way to their table at Sette Mezzo that Saul Steinberg still suffers from the effects of a devastating stroke he had a decade earlier. So Gayfryd gently guides him, holding one of his arms, the left one, the one that seems partly paralyzed. And as they pass their fellow diners, many of them members of the same super-wealthy clique the Steinbergs once led, friendly greetings are murmured aloud, while silently prayers are said—and not necessarily for Steinberg’s health.

So Ronald Jeançon, a past board president, once had to let Barbra Streisand’s broker know that the board would not even consider her because she was an actress and, worse than that, a singer. And Streisand is in good company. Others who have not made it into 740 include Joan Crawford, the late agent Ted Ashley, Neil Sedaka, the Daimler-Benz heir Friedrich Christian “Mick” Flick, the junk-bond tycoon Nelson Peltz, and, most recently, a Russian plutocrat, Leonard Blavatnik. For every rejection, there is a shareholder who wants . . . needs . . . to cash out and leave, but is held hostage by a difficult co-op board. And even when an applicant has passed the board, there are still more hurdles to get over. Cooperative ownership, clearly, has its drawbacks. The board at 740 also mandates that renovations be limited to summer months. In New York, the wealthy often leave town for the summer; this simple rule ensures that they will not be annoyed by the sights and sounds of construction.

“It was legitimate,” he says, “and I do not feel resentful, though I probably have less traffic in my home than some people at 740 do socially.” And 740 didn’t keep him out permanently after all; early in 2005, he went there to sell some Rothkos to a resident. Edgar Bronfman married his last wife, the artist Jan Aronson, in 1993, and they still live at 960 Fifth. His secretary says that recalling his years at 740 “isn’t really something he wants to do.” 27 THE PLUTOCRAT PALACE, WHERE WIDOWS AND DIVORCÉES HAD ALWAYS seemed to outnumber out-of-sight children, was turning into a building full of young families. Jan Cowles remembers sharing the elevator with Ann Bronfman, both of them pushing baby carriages. The Gimbels and Epsteins also had small children, as did many of those who bought apartments in the 1960s. Though they were a less homogeneous lot than in years past, they still had much in common.


pages: 1,402 words: 369,528

A History of Western Philosophy by Aaron Finkel

British Empire, Eratosthenes, Georg Cantor, George Santayana, invention of agriculture, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, plutocrats, Plutocrats, source of truth, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, the market place, William of Occam

It is interesting to observe, in Burnet’s account of the Pythagorean ethic, the opposition to modern values. In connection with a football match, modern-minded men think the players grander than the mere spectators. Similarly as regards the State: they admire more the politicians who are the contestants in the game than those who are only onlookers. This change of values is connected with a change in the social system—the warrior, the gentleman, the plutocrat, and the dictator, each has his own standard of the good and the true. The gentleman has had a long innings in philosophical theory, because he is associated with the Greek genius, because the virtue of contemplation acquired theological endorsement, and because the ideal of disinterested truth dignified the academic life. The gentleman is to be defined as one of a society of equals who live on slave labour, or at any rate upon the labour of men whose inferiority is unquestioned.

There were in Italy five important States: Milan, Venice, Florence, the Papal Domain, and Naples; in addition to these there were a number of small principalities, which varied in their alliance with or subjection to someone of the larger States. Until 1378, Genoa rivalled Venice in commerce and naval power, but after that year Genoa became subject to Milanese suzerainty. Milan, which led the resistance to feudalism in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, fell, after the final defeat of the Hohenstaufen, under the dominion of the Visconti, an able family whose power was plutocratic, not feudal. They ruled for 170 years, from 1277 to 1447; then, after three years of restored republican government, a new family, that of the Sforza, connected with the Visconti, acquired the government, and took the title of Dukes of Milan. From 1494 to 1535, Milan was a battle-ground between the French and the Spaniards; the Sforza allied themselves sometimes with one side, sometimes with the other.

Lorenzo’s son Pietro lacked his father’s merits, and was expelled in 1494. Then followed the four years of Savonarola’s influence, when a kind of Puritan revival turned men against gaiety and luxury, away from free-thought and towards the piety supposed to have characterized a simpler age. In the end, however, mainly for political reasons, Savonarola’s enemies triumphed, he was executed and his body was burnt (1498). The Republic, democratic in intention but plutocratic in fact, survived till 1512, when the Medici were restored. A son of Lorenzo, who had become a cardinal at the age of fourteen, was elected Pope in 1513, and took the title of Leo X. The Medici family, under the title of Grand Dukes of Tuscany, governed Florence until 1737; but Florence meanwhile, like the rest of Italy, had become poor and unimportant. The temporal power of the Pope, which owed its origin to Pepin and the forged Donation of Constantine, increased greatly during the Renaissance; but the methods employed by the popes to this end robbed the papacy of spiritual authority.


pages: 1,266 words: 344,635

Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

airport security, business process, corporate governance, data acquisition, dematerialisation, family office, illegal immigration, invention of the telescope, inventory management, plutocrats, Plutocrats, stem cell, the map is not the territory, undersea cable

It was a splendid way of funding decent civic amenities for those who didn’t necessarily come here by choice, but were subject to economic necessity like most humans. Saul wondered how the expedition would affect the desirability of owning a place in Abellia. Not that the truly rich lived here permanently; it was just another house spread around the circuit of their eternal migration. Most of the big houses went unused for a year or eighteen months at a time before their plutocrat owners visited in the forlorn hope of witnessing some new spectacle or experience that might momentarily enrich their jaded got-it-all lifestyle. Maybe the chance of being shredded by a nonhuman monster would actually appeal to their type. Although knowing them there would be an influx of armed hunters, relishing the thrill of stalking their lethal prey through uncharted jungle. That was the thing Saul feared as much as he admired about life in Abellia.

Let’s just see what my fiancé, a New Monaco citizen, has to say about that, shall we?” Matthews inclined his head. “Of course.” He and the other agents went into a huddle with the team from the Regulatory Board office, leaving her alone with Marlak. “They really will track it all down,” Marlak said quietly. “Your father and I never thought to hide anything away. New Monaco was supposed to be the one place where a plutocrat’s wealth was safe.” “I know.” She narrowed her eyes. “What about you? They can’t take anything of yours, can they?” “Nothing that’s already been paid to me, no. I haven’t had this month’s salary, so theoretically that makes me one of your creditors.” “Sorry.” “Don’t be. I’m rich in my own right—by normal standards, anyway. In fact, you’re welcome to come and live with me on New Washington for as long as you need.

“They’re good kids,” Emily said automatically. “They won’t go into this.” “Yeah. I certainly wouldn’t.” “What’s happening, Saul? It’s not the Zanth, is it?” He knew that apprehension only too well. If it was Zanth, they’d never make it to the Highcastle gateway. His eyes closed against a dark fear stirring, one he never thought he’d feel again. As if to emphasize the worry, he heard a distant sonic boom as some plutocrat’s private jet streaked south to safety. “This isn’t the Zanth,” he said with as much confidence he could gather. “The plants here have clearly evolved to cope with the sunspot outbreaks. This is what they do when it redshifts. They survive. And we will, too.” He eyed the silent majestic rivers of light cavorting across the sky, disturbed by their size and intensity. This was only the first day of the flares, and the sunspots had still been multiplying when he went to bed last night.


pages: 162 words: 42,595

Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne

dematerialisation, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, late capitalism, means of production, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Stewart Brand, the built environment

Buildings, as I have said, are often very expensive. The person or committee that commissions a building will always want to be assured that its money is being spent wisely, in order to bring about what is intended. If a school commissions a swimming pool then it will be disappointed, and will undoubtedly sue, if the building that results from the commission cannot in fact be used as for swimming. If a plutocrat commissions a frivolous eye-catcher for a hill in his garden, then the architect will have failed if the building is solemnly monumental. How does the architect persuade the client that the design fits the bill? Usually by explaining what it is going to be like, by using illustrations or models, so that the building can be imagined in its setting. At this stage the design can be modified without great expenditure.


pages: 337 words: 40,257

Pocket Milan & the Lakes by Lonely Planet, Paula Hardy

G4S, haute cuisine, Murano, Venice glass, plutocrats, Plutocrats, starchitect

It replaced the previous theatre, which burnt down in a fire after a carnival gala. Costs were covered by the sale of palchi (private boxes) of which there are six gilt bedecked tiers with plush crimson lining. When rehearsals are not in session you can stand in boxes 13, 15 and 18 for a glimpse of the jewel-like interior. The Loggione Above the private boxes, two loggione (galleries) allow the less well-off to peek over the heads of Milanese plutocrats at one of the largest stages in Italy. Occupants of these seats, the loggionisti, are the opera’s fiercest critics, famously booing tenor Roberto Alagna off stage in 2006, who was hurriedly replaced by understudy Antonello Palombi in his jeans and T-shirt to quieten them. Museo Teatrale alla Scala In the theatre’s museum ( 02 8879 7473; Largo Ghiringhelli 1, Piazza della Scala; admission €6; 9am-12.30pm, 1.30-5.30pm) , portraits, harlequin costumes and a spinet inscribed with the command ‘Inexpert hand, touch me not!’


pages: 439 words: 124,548

The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan

place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work

There were plenty of widowers in Zeugma desperate for heirs, and prepared to treat them like the flesh of their own co. But he had more important things to think about than the flaws in Yalda’s domestic life. “Beyond spreading the news to the citizenry of Red Towers,” he said, “I’m hoping your colleague Nereo can arrange a meeting for me with his patron.” “You can’t get an introduction to Paolo yourself?” Yalda was amused. “Whatever happened to the plutocrats’ network?” “Networks, plural. They’re not all joined together.” “Why do you want to meet Paolo?” “Money,” Eusebio replied bluntly. “My father’s set a ceiling on my investment in the rocket. If I’m going to have to build the whole structure myself—mining and transporting all the sunstone, incorporating it into an artificial shell… if I tried to match the scale of Mount Peerless the costs would be greater by a factor of several gross, but even the smallest viable alternative is far beyond what I can afford on my own.”

If the Peerless really did come back after an age in the void—with the kind of technology that could defeat the Hurtlers and everything that threatened to follow them—they’d trade with whomever they liked, on whatever terms they wished. A certain amount of compassion for their distant cousins was the most she was hoping for; any prospect of scrupulous adherence to contracts signed by their long-dead ancestors was just a fantasy Eusebio had encouraged so the plutocrats could part with vast sums of money without having to confront the horrifying reality that it was actually being spent for the common good. Frido was waiting by the bunker. “How was she?” he asked anxiously. “Calm,” Yalda said. “She was joking with me.” Frido stared back across the plain. Yalda decided that they were the ones who were getting the real taste of cosmic determinism; Benedetta could still decide either to launch the rocket or back out, but nothing her two friends did now could influence her choice.


pages: 409 words: 125,611

The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them by Joseph E. Stiglitz

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of DNA, Doha Development Round, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, information asymmetry, job automation, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, urban sprawl, very high income, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, white flight, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population

As the evening’s early chitchat burbled on, I overheard one billionaire—who had gotten his start in life by inheriting a fortune—discuss with another the problem of lazy Americans who were trying to free ride on the rest. Soon thereafter, they seamlessly transitioned into a discussion of tax shelters, apparently unaware of the irony. Several times in the evening, Marie Antoinette and the guillotine were invoked as the gathered plutocrats reminded each other of the risks of allowing inequality to grow to excess: “Remember the guillotine” set the tone for the evening. And in that refrain they confessed a central message of this book: the level of inequality in America is not inevitable; it is not the result of inexorable laws of economics. It is a matter of policies and politics. It was, they seemed to be saying, possible for these powerful men to do something about inequality.

A typical full-time male worker receives the same income today he did a third of a century ago. From the left, meanwhile, the widening inequality often elicits an appeal for simple justice: why should so few have so much when so many have so little? It’s not hard to see why, in a market-driven age where justice itself is a commodity to be bought and sold, some would dismiss that argument as the stuff of pious sentiment. Put sentiment aside. There are good reasons why plutocrats should care about inequality anyway—even if they’re thinking only about themselves. The rich do not exist in a vacuum. They need a functioning society around them to sustain their position. Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable. The evidence from history and from around the modern world is unequivocal: there comes a point when inequality spirals into economic dysfunction for the whole society, and when it does, even the rich pay a steep price.


pages: 424 words: 119,679

It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, coronavirus, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, factory automation, failed state, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Lyft, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, The Chicago School, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, uber lyft, universal basic income, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration

“There is a growing sense that democracy in the United States has not been functioning effectively enough to address the challenges of honest governance. As I travel the world, I see that people everywhere pay tremendous attention to events in the United States. When they observe a bigoted plutocrat succeeding here, this gives cheer to the world’s dictators.” Diamond is no street-theater agitator. His office is at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a mostly conservative public-policy study center that is the right’s answer to the mostly liberal Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. And he finds the winner of the 2016 American presidential election a “bigoted plutocrat.” Defenders of democracy must accept that Trump was chosen—there’s no assurance that free elections will produce good leaders. But those who are chosen must be held to high standards. Before becoming secretary of defense, James Mattis, a retired Marine general, said, “America has two fundamental powers, intimidation and inspiration.”


Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City by Richard Sennett

Buckminster Fuller, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, creative destruction, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Downton Abbey, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Frank Gehry, ghettoisation, housing crisis, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Masdar, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, open borders, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Richard Florida, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, urban planning, urban renewal, Victor Gruen

In an open, opportunity-seeking way of investing, as the venture capitalist William Janeway observes, investors are focused on whether a particular deal can trigger other deals, rather than on whether it is profitable in itself.12 Exceptional deals jump-starting growth were easier to pull off in the early stages of the urban revolution; a generation ago, it wasn’t clear that cities were going to grow so fast in the south or to regenerate in the north. Today, there are fewer short-sighted owners like those who sold to the Canadians creating Canary Wharf. A more sophisticated model of development has therefore come to the fore. This is ‘core investing’. A plutocrat in Kuala Lumpur may have no way of knowing if a new building in Delhi is a tipping point or not; Kuala Lumpur knows little about the building’s relationship to surrounding buildings, to the local community, or to the city at large. And the plutocrat need not care. (I have nothing against Kuala Lumpur, I’m only giving an example.) Essentially, core investing puts money into a set of parameters, a set of specifications. Once you decide on the specs, you look for a place in which to build. The procedure suits globalization because the number of square metres involved, the quantity of materials and labour time can all be decided and then priced at a distance.


pages: 684 words: 212,486

Hunger: The Oldest Problem by Martin Caparros

Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, carbon footprint, commoditize, David Graeber, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, income inequality, index fund, invention of agriculture, Jeff Bezos, Live Aid, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, Slavoj Žižek, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the market place, Tobin tax, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%

* * * — Several years ago, the United States placed itself in the vanguard of fighting that strange epidemic of obesity. To begin to be afraid of it was one of the most radical cultural changes in recent times. For centuries, in almost all societies, being overweight was a luxury; being able to eat excessively, waste resources in one’s own body, and show that off, was a form of power. Even a few decades ago being fat was a sure sign of prosperity. Kings, big hotshots, cardinals, plutocrats with bellies inflating their vests from which hung gold watch chains, those grand dames with grand hats, and opera stars, all carried their fat like trophies. At a time when working hard made you thin, a fat body was a body that announced its idleness; at a time when eating was a privilege, a body that could prove that it ate everything it wanted—and more than it needed—was a body that one wanted to show off.

In a recent report the Asian Development Bank argued that if emerging Asia’s income distribution had not worsened over the past twenty years, the region’s rapid growth would have lifted an extra 240 million people out of extreme poverty. More controversial studies purport to link widening income gaps with all manner of ills, from obesity to suicide. The widening gaps within many countries are beginning to worry even the plutocrats. A survey for the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos pointed to inequality as the most pressing problem of the coming decade (alongside fiscal imbalances). In all sections of society, there is growing agreement that the world is becoming more unequal, and that today’s disparities and their likely trajectory are dangerous. […] The unstable history of Latin America, long the continent with the biggest income gaps, suggests that countries run by entrenched wealthy elites do not do very well.

This is done with the participation of the foundations of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rockefeller, some of the most powerful capitalists. Seems they have recently decided that they can hand over a few billion dollars, the product of their domination of world markets, their speculations, to alleviate the poverty that market creates. For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the rich were portrayed as caricatures, target practice, tremble oh plutocrats tremble, the greedy monster who gobbles up everything, the dirty old man who spends his money getting Lulu drunk on his champagne today and refuses to raise the wages of a poor worker who asked him for an extra piece of bread. Now they are magicians and kings who donate, save the world. As for their own assets, they still say: I screw over everybody and keep the money of millions; I throw them a bone, here and there, because I care, because I’m worried about them.


Ada BlackJack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven

British Empire, Golden Gate Park, plutocrats, Plutocrats, traveling salesman

Crawford, Knight, Maurer, and Galle thought back to their first weeks on the island, when polar bear tracks had overlapped each other on the ground and they hadn’t attempted to hunt them. And now the bears were gone. Every now and then, a stray white form was glimpsed in the distance, hulking away from camp, but when the men gave chase they usually came back with nothing. By December 1921, the weather was rotten and kept them confined to their house for weeks on end. Ada woke first to start the fire and make breakfast, while the men lay around “like plutocrats,” according to Knight. They got up when they felt like it and went to bed when they were sleepy, and they spent their days chopping wood, hauling ice, and feeding the dogs. Galle wrote in his journals, invented humorous lyrics about the others, and plucked away happily at a pair of deerskin pants he was making; Maurer stretched out in a corner and read; Crawford, ever the diligent student, added to his scientific notes; and Knight, who liked to think himself in charge, tackled whatever task needed to be done, like making a sled-raft covering with the sewing machine.

New York Times, March 20,1992 SIX 92 “I shall not...” New York Times, September 28,1921 93 “effected a renewal...” New York Times, September 28,1921 93 “Of what use...” New York Times, March 22,1922 93 “The Government...” Le Bourdais, Stefansson: Ambassador of the North, p. 166 94 “Wrangel Island...” Washington Times, The National Daily, “Wrangel Isle Land of Russia, U.S. Concludes,” Tuesday, May 23, 1922 94 “like plutocrats” “Summary of Wrangel Island Expedition,”August 21, 1922, NAC 96 “What should I...” Lorne Knight’s diary, December 17, 1921, KL 99 “Now I will...” “Summary of Wrangel Island Expedition,” August 21, 1922, NAC 100 “I wonder what...” “Summary of Wrangel Island Expedition,” August 21, 1922, NAC 102 “I’ll put C. up...” “Summary of Wrangel Island Expedition,” August 21, 1922, NAC 104 “Our names should...”


pages: 473 words: 132,344

The Downfall of Money: Germany's Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class by Frederick Taylor

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, central bank independence, centre right, collective bargaining, falling living standards, fiat currency, fixed income, full employment, German hyperinflation, housing crisis, Internet Archive, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, mittelstand, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, quantitative easing, rent control, risk/return, strikebreaker, trade route, zero-sum game

In an inflationary situation, someone like Stinnes could borrow almost unlimited amounts at favourable rates, courtesy of the Reichsbank’s policy of automatic loans to German industry, and, moreover, by the time he began to pay back the loan it would be worth less in real terms – as time went by, a very, very great deal less. Hated by millions as a personification of capitalism’s ugly excesses, the curious thing was that Stinnes bore little resemblance to the stereotype of the plutocrat. Photographs of him at the height of his wealth and power show him as a slight, undistinguished figure. Often, when photographed in the street or some other public place, he would seem to be glancing at the camera with wary unease. Even in family photographs, he seems tense. When out and about – and he travelled a great deal – he wore a slightly shabby, old-fashioned dark suit and a bowler hat.

Not that Hitler, though he had clearly tacked to suit the political wind, fundamentally changed his policy on the Ruhr. The French actions there were an outrage, but then the French were . . . simply being French. The real guilty parties in this affair remained, as ever, the democratic parties of Weimar and their politicians. Not forgetting their alleged Jewish backers, who were, of course, also behind the French plutocrats who had engineered the Ruhr occupation. The notion of the Jews being to blame for everything fitted even better into the framework of the post-war inflation. Jews represented, for the German far right, internationalism, mobile finance capital, the rendering to mere unreliable (and stealable) paper of the honest, tangible wealth that came from making and growing things. Therefore the destruction of real value that the inflation had brought with it was seen as an essentially Jewish phenomenon.


pages: 162 words: 51,473

The Accidental Theorist: And Other Dispatches From the Dismal Science by Paul Krugman

"Robert Solow", Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, business cycle, clean water, collective bargaining, computerized trading, corporate raider, declining real wages, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, life extension, new economy, Nick Leeson, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, trade route, very high income, working poor, zero-sum game

A particularly striking statistic in Wolff’s book should put an end to the still-widespread tendency to discuss the growth of inequality in America by tracking the fortunes of the top 20 percent, or of college-educated workers. Between 1983 and 1989, while the wealth share of the top 20 percent of families rose substantially, the share of percentiles 80 to 99 actually fell. In other words, when we say that America’s rich have gotten richer, by the “rich” we do not mean garden variety yuppies—we mean true plutocrats. Many conservatives have probably stopped reading by now, or at least stopped being able to respond to this article with anything other than blind anger, but for those who are still with me let me make a crucial point about these statistics: They say nothing about who, if anyone, is to blame. To say that America was a far more unequal society in 1989 than it was in 1973 is a simple statement of fact, not an attack on Ronald Reagan.


pages: 219 words: 51,207

Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton

Anton Chekhov, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley

The flaws whose exposure we so dread, the indiscretions we know we would be mocked for, the secrets that keep our conversations with our so-called friends superficial and inert – all of these emerge as simply part of the human condition. We have no reason left to dissemble or lie in a building dedicated to honouring the terror and weakness of a man who was nothing like the usual heroes of antiquity, nothing like the fierce soldiers of Rome’s army or the plutocrats of its Senate, and yet who was nevertheless worthy of being crowned the highest of men, the king of kings. (illustration credit 2.6) 4. If we have managed to remain awake to (and for) the lessons of the Mass, it should by its close have succeeded in shifting us at least fractionally off our accustomed egocentric axes. It should also have given us a few ideas which we could use to mend some of the endemic fractures of the modern world.


pages: 135 words: 49,109

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, quantitative easing, telemarketer, unpaid internship

So let’s break this down: You’re poor, so you desperately need whatever crappy job you can find, and the nature of that crappy job is that you can be fired at any time. Meanwhile, your hours can be cut with no notice, and there’s no obligation on the part of your employer to provide severance regardless of why, how, or when they let you go. And we wonder why the poor get poorer? Of course not every firing is part of an intricate plot by the plutocrats. I’ve also been fired for calling off work too much (“calling off work,” for those unfamiliar with the vernacular, just means that you call your boss to say you’re not coming in). Usually I’ve called off because I was legitimately sick, because I rarely miss work more than I can help. But sometimes it was because my car wouldn’t start or because I just couldn’t face it. It doesn’t matter what you say, and your boss doesn’t care; the point is whether you do it too much, not whether your reasons are legit.


pages: 166 words: 49,639

Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business Is Easier Than You Think by Luke Johnson

Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Grace Hopper, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, James Dyson, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Kickstarter, mass immigration, mittelstand, Network effects, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, patent troll, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, software patent, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traveling salesman, tulip mania, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators

And as the cycle turns for champagne, so it turns for whole swathes of industries: more-affordable items are purchased at the expense of top-end luxuries. It always takes a while for the pain to be felt in the luxury goods business. Initially, all those selling yachts or sports cars or operating casinos think that the dependable rich Russians and Arabs will bail them out, and for a while that’s true. But then the price of oil usually collapses in a downturn, just like everything else, and so plutocrats from resource-rich countries must rein in their spending too. Meanwhile, businesses everywhere savagely reduce expense accounts and corporate hospitality, hitting all sorts of suppliers reliant on that spending. Businesses in the mid-market can prosper in a downturn, but must discount to survive. At the Giraffe restaurant chain, which I chair, we engineer our costs to cope with lower price points and preserve margin.


pages: 175 words: 52,122

Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune by Kristin Ross

game design, informal economy, plutocrats, Plutocrats, the built environment

But surely it belongs to neither fiction exactly and instead to some other kind of history—one that Arlette Farge, in another context, has described as “untimely, ironic, irregular, disruptive.”58 It is important to recall the vehemence with which many Commune survivors combated the view that they had acted to “save the Republic.” “The republic of our dreams was surely not the one we have. We wanted it democratic, social and universal and not plutocratic.”59 As for Lefrançais, he is characteristically blunt: “The proletariat will never be truly emancipated unless it gets rid of the Republic—the last form, and not the least malevolent—of authoritarian governments.”60 _______________ 1M. Chauvière, cited in La Revue blanche, 1871: Enquête sur la Commune, p. 51. 2Louise Michel, La Commune: Histoire et souvenirs [1898] (Paris: La Découverte, 2005), p. 170. 3Adolphe Thiers speaking before the Assemblée Nationale, cited in La Revue blanche, 1871: Enquête sur la Commune, p. 43. 4A police official of the Government of National Defense in 1872, cited in Robert Wolfe, “The Origins of the Paris Commune: The Popular Organizations of 1868–71,” PhD diss., Harvard University, July 1965, p. 162. 5Chevalier d’Alix, Dictionnaire de la Commune et des communeux (La Rochelle: A.


pages: 1,335 words: 336,772

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow

always be closing, bank run, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bolshevik threat, Boycotts of Israel, Bretton Woods, British Empire, buy and hold, California gold rush, capital controls, Charles Lindbergh, collective bargaining, corporate raider, Etonian, financial deregulation, fixed income, German hyperinflation, index arbitrage, interest rate swap, margin call, money market fund, Monroe Doctrine, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, paper trading, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, strikebreaker, the market place, the payments system, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, undersea cable, Yom Kippur War, young professional

Jack also had a peculiar stoop, his shoulders hunching forward as if he were muscle-bound or ducking to pass through a low doorway. But the similarities were more striking. Both were six foot two, broad shouldered, and burly—cartoonists scarcely had to alter their sketches of the pear-shaped, top-hatted tycoon. Jack even wore Pierpont’s bloodstone on his watch chain—a favorite touch of the radical caricaturists, who had added it to the iconography of paunchy plutocrats. The strong Morgan nose remained, though without Pierpont’s skin disease. Contemporaries said the two J. P. Morgans even walked and talked alike. Occasionally, one sees a snapshot of “J. P. Morgan” threatening a reporter with his stick and momentarily cannot tell which Morgan it is. Both were high-strung, thin-skinned, moody, and prone to melancholic self-pity. Deeply emotional, they feared their ungovernable passions.

And Charles Mellen had redeeming features as a railroad man. For the first time, he enabled passengers to travel from New York to Boston without switching lines. The problem was that Mellen was a thorough rascal. Here was William Allen White’s verdict: “Mellen, in the eyes of economic liberals, was the head devil of the plutocracy in Massachusetts and New England. . . . In politics, Mellen walked to his ends directly, justified by the conscience of a plutocrat, which held in contempt the scruples of democracy.”20 Congressional investigators later revealed that Mellen handed out about a million dollars in bribes on one suburban line alone. Beyond shame, he even suborned a Harvard professor to deliver lectures favoring lenient regulatory treatment for trains and trolleys. So pervasive was New Haven power in New England that it was termed the “invisible government.”21 Mellen’s largesse extended right up to the Republican National Committee.

To his credit, Lamont handled Corliss’s radical politics with admirable tact. Corliss would view his own politics not as a negation of his parents’ views but as an extension of their liberalism. Always proud of his work for Woodrow Wilson, Lamont seemed to stand out as the great exception, refuting, in Corliss’s words, the “stereotype of rich people and Republicans as conservative or reactionary plutocrats opposed to all forms of progress and liberalism.”18 Nor was this just a loving son’s bias; such accolades tumbled in upon Lamont. To poet John Masefield, the Lamonts were an exemplary couple, representing everything civilized: “Their political views, national and international, were ever generous and liberal. They always seemed to be in touch with the generous and the liberal of every country.”19 Even General Smuts of South Africa told Lamont, “There is no doubt that your house is an international meeting place, and an influence for good . . . second to none in the world.”20 Why should they have thought otherwise?


pages: 1,106 words: 335,322

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow

business cycle, California gold rush, collective bargaining, death of newspapers, delayed gratification, double entry bookkeeping, endowment effect, family office, financial independence, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Santayana, God and Mammon, income inequality, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Menlo Park, New Journalism, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, passive investing, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price discrimination, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, white picket fence, yellow journalism

Yet when photographed in leisure hours in the sanctuary of Forest Hill, he looked trim and whimsical, surprisingly boyish for such a powerful man. Gone were the old side-whiskers, but he still had a full red mustache and sandy brown hair. In a period when moguls prided themselves on their embonpoint, Rockefeller was as lean as a grey-hound. And at a time when top hats and watch chains were de rigueur for any self-respecting plutocrat, Rockefeller generally conformed to the requisite style, but his family constantly had to remind him to buy a new suit when his current one got too shiny. If Rockefeller generally enjoyed excellent health, there were early warning symptoms of the toll taken by the excruciating pressures of Standard Oil. In 1878, he wrote to Eliza, “I am eating celery which I understand to be very good for nervous difficulty.”2 Colleagues plied him with advice to take more vacations and spend more time away from business, even though Rockefeller later said he was almost semiretired at this point.

By that point, Gates had assembled a team of advisers tutored in Rockefeller’s principles, trained in his methods, and fired with his evangelical zeal. For the remainder of his life, Rockefeller’s medical status provoked so much fantasy, gossip, and speculation that we should try to define it here with some precision. Rockefeller had been fit and youthful well into his fifties. He never adopted the sleek, portly look of his fellow plutocrats and seemed ten years younger than his age. What, then, ailed him in the early 1890s? Broadly speaking, the answer was overwork, brought on by the combined stress of work and charity. As his inseparable companion and homeopathic physician, Dr. Hamilton Biggar, said, “A little more of that would have killed him. Mr. Rockefeller was close to the edge of a breakdown . . . when he finally let himself be persuaded that he could no longer do the work of several men with the strength of one.”69 But if overwork weakened his immune system, he also succumbed to opportunistic diseases.

Rockefeller never lost his ingrained sense of thrift. When Junior, defying custom, gave him a fur coat and cap for Christmas in 1908, it elicited the following humorous reply: “I thank you a thousand times for the fur coat and cap and mittens. I did not feel I could afford such luxuries, and am grateful for a son who is able to buy them for me.”9 As his son should have known, Rockefeller would never strut around in this plutocrat’s costume, and he returned it to Junior, who wore it instead. Breathtakingly generous in his philanthropy, Rockefeller could also be stingy—appallingly so. Whereas most other tycoons hired subordinates to oversee personal expenditures, Rockefeller supervised every detail, and in small matters he tended to be an incorrigible skinflint. The account books of his estates were all sent to 26 Broadway and audited to the last dollar.


pages: 173 words: 52,725

How to Be Right: In a World Gone Wrong by James O'Brien

Boris Johnson, clockwatching, collective bargaining, death of newspapers, Donald Trump, game design, housing crisis, mass immigration, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, QAnon, ride hailing / ride sharing, sexual politics, young professional

The two combine to create a society in which money is all that matters, but in which ‘freedom of choice’ is used as a fig leaf to camouflage a callous commitment to an economic system which further enriches the already rich at the expense of the eternally poor. If a government spends money encouraging our notional mum to give her child tap water instead of a sweetened successor to Sunny Delight, nobody makes a buck. If a government seeks to limit the amount of advertising promoting such products, the ability to make a buck might be compromised, so the newspapers owned by plutocrats with fingers in countless commercial pies line up to decry the ‘nanny state’. If fast food joints are prevented from opening up within a 400 metre radius of a school, then it is an unconscionable assault on business and free choice. In other words, companies should be free to employ every tactic under the sun to get us to do ourselves harm if there’s money it for them; but if a politician, a celebrity chef or a journalist suggests that tax revenues should be spent or decisions taken to alleviate some of that harm, then it is KILLJOY DO-GOODERS USHERING IN THE NANNY STATE BECAUSE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS HAS GONE MAD!


Masters of Mankind by Noam Chomsky

affirmative action, American Legislative Exchange Council, Berlin Wall, failed state, God and Mammon, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, Martin Wolf, means of production, Nelson Mandela, nuremberg principles, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, union organizing, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system

Thus the fighting working class, basing itself upon Marxism, will find Lenin’s philosophical work a stumbling-block in its way, as the theory of a class that tries to perpetuate its serfdom.27 And in the postwar Western welfare state, the technically trained intelligentsia also aspire to positions of control in the emerging state-capitalist societies in which a powerful state is linked in complex ways to a network of corporations that are on their way to becoming international institutions. They look forward to “a well-ordered production for use under the direction of technical scientific experts” in what they describe as the “post-industrial technetronic society” in which “plutocratic pre-eminence comes under a sustained challenge from the political leadership which itself is increasingly permeated by individuals possessing special skills and intellectual talents,” a society in which “knowledge becomes a tool of power, and the effective mobilization of talent an important way for acquiring power.”28 Bourne’s critical words on the treachery of the intellectuals thus fall within a broader analytic framework.


pages: 170 words: 51,205

Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman

Airbnb, barriers to entry, Brewster Kahle, cloud computing, Dean Kamen, Edward Snowden, game design, Internet Archive, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, MITM: man-in-the-middle, optical character recognition, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, profit maximization, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Saturday Night Live, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, transfer pricing, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy

I fear that the people who have figured out how to attain superhuman powers through the application of meetings, memos, and bureaucracies will aggressively acquire technology and use it to disrupt any upstart who threatens to accomplish the same effect with less drudgery. After all, when you’re in the business of solving problems for a living, your job becomes making sure that the problems never go away, or you’ll be out of business. So I fear that totalitarians, spooks, bullies, and plutocrats will use information technology to spy on us, to sow discord among us—and, at the extreme, to kidnap and torture and murder us. That’s what happened in the Arab Spring, when repressive governments under threat of a popular uprising realized that they could mine Facebook and Gmail to figure out who knew whom in the activist world, making it easier to round them all up when the time came. That’s my fear: technology magnifying the power of the powerful—not just governments, but the record companies, the movie studios, and the online intermediaries who are increasingly shaping the creative sphere themselves—to the disadvantage of everyone else.


The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the Metropolitan Elite by Michael Lind

affirmative action, anti-communist, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, centre right, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, future of work, global supply chain, guest worker program, Haight Ashbury, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, knowledge economy, liberal world order, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, moral panic, Nate Silver, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, union organizing, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, working poor

For democracy is what results when you have a state of tension in society that permits no one group to dare bid for the total power. Noting that “Communists will call this a reactionary position,” Chamberlain argued that on the contrary the New Deal sought to balance corporate power: “For the labor union and the co-operative still lag far behind the business institute and syndicate in power; they must be built up.”24 In addition, according to Chamberlain, the New Deal “was designed primarily to even things up between the plutocratic city and the impoverished country, between metropolitan East and plundered West and South.” In this vision of democratic pluralism as an alternative to both dictatorship and plutocracy, leadership was exerted by those whom Chamberlain called “broker-politicians” like FDR who presided over compromises among “bosses” representing various important economic and social groups: “Indeed, the pressure group, far from being the loathsome thing that it is commonly accounted by the philosophical idealist, is absolutely necessary to the functioning of an industrial democracy. . . .


pages: 198 words: 52,089

Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It by Richard V. Reeves

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, assortative mating, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, circulation of elites, cognitive dissonance, desegregation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, full employment, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, helicopter parent, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, knowledge economy, land value tax, longitudinal study, mortgage tax deduction, obamacare, Occupy movement, plutocrats, Plutocrats, positional goods, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, working-age population, zero-sum game

The gap between the bottom fifth and the middle fifth has not widened at all. In fact, there has been no increase in inequality below the eightieth percentile. All the inequality action is above that line. Income growth has not been uniform within the top fifth, of course: a third of the income rise went to the top 1 percent alone. But that still left $2.7 trillion for the 19 percent just beneath them. Failing to join the ranks of the plutocrats does not mean life as a pauper. It is not just the “upper class” that has been flourishing. A much broader swath of American society is doing well—and detaching themselves. These facts can cause some discomfort. Few of us want to be associated with the hated super-rich. Very often it seems to be those quite near the top of the distribution who are most angry with those at the very top: more than a third of the demonstrators on the May Day “Occupy” march in 2011 had annual earnings of more than $100,000.8 But, rather than looking up in envy and resentment, the upper middle class would do well to look at their own position compared to those falling further and further behind.


pages: 488 words: 144,145

Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream by R. Christopher Whalen

Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, California gold rush, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, debt deflation, falling living standards, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global reserve currency, housing crisis, interchangeable parts, invention of radio, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, non-tariff barriers, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, women in the workforce

Their control over the Senate and thus national policy was an important practical check on Roosevelt’s actions, particularly regarding domestic economic and fiscal policy. Robert Byrd put the political situation facing Roosevelt into perspective: How much of Roosevelt’s reform program shaped by his dealings and compromises with the conservative leaders of the Senate; how far was he willing to go; and how soon was he willing to retreat on an issue. Roosevelt saw himself as a man of the political center, fending off, on one side, the plutocrats who controlled the great wealth and power of American industry and, on the other side, the masses with their radical and destabilizing demands . . . We think of Roosevelt as a reform president, but he was really a consensus president, cautiously waiting to act until he had public opinion and support in his corner, willing to accept half a loaf rather than none. When Roosevelt and his program are seen in this light, we can more readily perceive the influence that Congress—particularly the struggle between conservative and progressive forces in Congress—had on his programs.14 Both Theodore Roosevelt’s achievements and long-term legacy among American presidents seem to confirm Byrd’s assessment.

He was even less sanguine about the individual speculators in these markets and the smaller trusts that had proliferated by the hundreds and employed bank loans to fund purchases of stocks and bonds. Conveniently enough, the crisis forced the heavily indebted Tennessee Iron & Coal company, a competitor of the great Pennsylvania Steel Trust controlled by the Morgan and Rockefeller groups, to sell itself to Morgan for $30 million, less than 5 percent of its actual worth.20 In the fictional work The Money Changers, published in 1908 by Upton Sinclair, “a plutocrat very much resembling Morgan provoked a financial panic and turned the people’s misery to his own sordid gain,” wrote James Grant in Money on the Mind.21 It should also be that the government of President Roosevelt did not attempt to block the purchase of Tennessee Iron & Coal by U.S. Steel even though it was clearly a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Whether or not J.P. Morgan deliberately caused the Panic of 1907 and then arrived as the savior of the nation to counter its terrible effects, many people believed that version of events.


pages: 586 words: 159,901

Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood

accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liberal capitalism, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, publication bias, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, selection bias, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

A study of the 1995 and 1996 editions by the Boston-based group United for a Fair Economy (1996) showed that 43% were born with enough wealth to make it onto the elite list; another 7% had inherited $50 million or more — not enough to make it onto the list, but nothing to sneeze at; 6% had inherited at least $1 million or a family business; and 14% were born into the upper middle class. Just 30% of the 400 plutocrats were "self-made" — but they controlled only 25% of the list's total wealth, making them the elite's poor relations. Putting all the evidence together, a cautious guess is that about half of all personal wealth can be traced to inheritance (Gale and Scholz 1994), though one is perfectly justified at believing three-quarters. "Nonwhite" Americans — the SCF offers no finer distinction than that — suffer badly in a wealth comparison with whites

The Fed also manipulates the media ably; reporters, eager for a leak from a central bank insider, will print anything whispered in their ears, whether or not it's true — leaks sometimes designed to mislead or enlighten the markets, and other times the product of some internal struggle. WALL STREET Even though FOMC members would no doubt invent all sorts of clever euphemisms to express the dangers of excessively low unemployment, televising the FOMC's proceedings on C-SPAN would still provide an enlightening glimpse into the mentality of power. Wall Street ideology Since this section is about the state, some words about Wall Street's politics. As do most plutocrats, financiers take their own, usually crude, thoughts quite seriously, and are also rich enough to pay lots of other people to think for them. Their opinions range from establishment liberal (especially on social issues) to ravingly right wing; the rightwingers, all fans of laissez-faire, can be subdivided into those whose libertarianism extends to social tolerance, and those who are fulminant bigots.


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

At last Rome’s ships made direct contact with the world’s economic superpower. In the first century, the anonymous author of The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea described the navigation and trade of the Indian Ocean; Strabo wrote that ‘now great fleets are sent as far as India’; and the emperor Tiberius complained of Indian luxuries draining the empire of its wealth. Peacocks from India became a favourite possession of Roman plutocrats. Indian ports like Barigaza (modern Bharuch in Gujarat) seem to have blossomed through exporting cotton cloth and other manufactures to the West. Soon, even within India, there were enclaves of Roman traders, whose hoards of amphorae and coins still sometimes come to light. Arikamedu, for example, on the east coast near modern Pondicherry, was exporting to China glass imported from Roman Syria (glass blowing was a new Roman invention and glass was suddenly much better and cheaper throughout the empire).

It is no coincidence that the growth of technology industries took off after the mid-1970s when Congress freed pension funds and non-profits to invest some of their assets in venture funds. California is not the birthplace of entrepreneurs; it is the place they go to do their enterprising; fully one-third of successful start-ups in California between 1980 and 2000 had Indian- or Chinese-born founders. In imperial Rome, no doubt scores of unknown slaves knew how to make better olive presses, better watermills and better wool looms, while scores of plutocrats knew how to save, invest and consume. But the two lived miles apart, separated by venal middlemen who had no desire to bring them together. A telling anecdote about glass repeated by several Roman authors rather drives home the point. A man demonstrates to the emperor Tiberius his invention of an unbreakable form of glass, hoping for a reward. Tiberius asks if anybody else knows his secret and is assured nobody does.


pages: 434 words: 150,773

When the Iron Lady Ruled Britain by Robert Chesshyre

Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, corporate raider, deskilling, Etonian, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, full employment, housing crisis, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, means of production, Neil Kinnock, North Sea oil, oil rush, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Silicon Valley, the market place, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wealth creators, young professional

In 1987, when the young and privileged partied on their City salaries and on inherited wealth as if there was no tomorrow, that lesson had long been forgotten. Sloanes were in their prime, and the jeunesse dorée drank themselves insensible as their elders paraded at Ascot and Henley. My memories of encounters with the Hooray Henries of 1987 are stirred whenever I see a picture of the young royals staggering from the Boujis nightclub. Those troubled by the impact of the fast-widening wealth gap were open-mouthed at the audacity of the young plutocrats of 1987. Like the poor, they remain with us. A stone’s throw from where these people partied, thousands lived in deprivation and fear, warehoused in south London’s grim estates. What might be described as ‘the NCO class’ – those who, through running youth groups and being prepared to stand up to troublemakers, gave stability to such communities – had despaired and departed, leaving behind the predators and the preyed-upon.

Aberdeen would then be another of our industrial museums like north of England smokestack towns and the Welsh valleys, a further landmark on the road to national bankruptcy. Aberdeen today, Britain tomorrow. Articles in the London press appeared to confirm this simple storyline. ‘Bubbles’ were bursting all over the headlines; oil rigs were ‘idle and forlorn’; Aberdeen’s house market was a ‘nightmare’; ‘Lean times ahead’, said the Guardian, ‘for oil capital’. Stories told of divers, once plutocrats earning £35,000 a year, driven destitute, selling their homes, their BMWs, taking their children out of private schools. Americans were leaving with the speed they had once evacuated Saigon – some, unable to sell their homes, simply threw the keys back at their building societies. City-centre pubs were said to be going bust; ten thousand jobs had been wiped out in a few months; and many of the unemployed had headed back to the depressed regions they came from – like gastarbeiter, surplus to requirements.


pages: 590 words: 153,208

Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century by George Gilder

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, cleantech, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, Gunnar Myrdal, Home mortgage interest deduction, Howard Zinn, income inequality, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, medical malpractice, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, non-fiction novel, North Sea oil, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, volatility arbitrage, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, yield curve, zero-sum game

It is discretionary capital that finances most of what is original and idiosyncratic in our culture and economy, that launches the apparently hopeless cause in business and politics, that supports the unusual invention, art, or private school, that founds the institutions of the future. Yet it is this kind of spending that is considered waste or recklessness by the mathematical economist and denounced as plutocratic by the leftist politician (as he petitions his banker friends for cash). It is this kind of discretionary wealth that the rationalistic reformer wishes, above all, to wring out of the American system, to replace in politics by “public interest committees” and merit panels; in philanthropy by ever more thoroughly regulated and routinized foundations; in culture by councils on the arts or humanities and their nonprofit clients and satellites—all the clones and cousins of government agencies that in the end are indistinguishable from the State.

In the past this strange struggle has often enlisted the services of lumpen intellectuals, contriving gothic rationales for racism and pillage: inventing tables of cabalistic Jewish financiers, conspiracies of Asian shopkeepers, peculiar collaborations of usurious moneylenders. In more recent times the fashion has turned decisively against ethnic prejudice, which remains socially acceptable chiefly among the poor. But hatred of producers of wealth still flourishes and has become, in fact, the racism of the intelligentsia. Replacing the ethnic conspiracy theories, therefore, have been fantasies that envisage a whole predatory system of oppressors—plutocrats, robber barons, bankers, speculators, bourbons, oil monopolists, establishments, nabobs, exploiters, imperialists, with, as an occasional fillip, a family of Rockefellers so potent as to seem an entire ruling class in itself. From this general animus and in this essential idiom arises much of the dense scholarship and obsessive polemics of Marxism. But whether crude or labyrinthine, seasoned with ethnic resentments or elaborated in computer printouts, the intellectual case against the rich reflects the same dumb disbelief in capitalism that seethed on the streets of Harlem and Provence, the same incomprehension of the mutality of gains from trade that has always animated the hysterias of protectionism, the same fantastic belief that the real cause of poverty is, yes, wealth!


pages: 482 words: 149,351

The Finance Curse: How Global Finance Is Making Us All Poorer by Nicholas Shaxson

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, airline deregulation, anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Blythe Masters, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Donald Trump, Etonian, failed state, falling living standards, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, forensic accounting, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, high net worth, income inequality, index fund, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, land value tax, late capitalism, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, wealth creators, white picket fence, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

He had a point then, and he would still have a point today. Veblen’s best-known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class, published in 1899, is a vicious exposé of a world where productive workers toiled long hours, and parasitic elites fed off the fruits of their labours. The wealthy also engaged in ‘conspicuous consumption’ and ‘conspicuous leisure’ – wasteful activities to show others they were so rich they didn’t need to work. Plutocrats always wanted more wealth and power, he noted, and worse, their petulance and excesses generally provoked not anger but reverence! The oppressed masses didn’t try to overthrow their social betters; they wanted to copy them. (The popularity of shows like Made in Chelsea and Keeping up with the Kardashians might be the modern equivalents.) In short, he concluded, twentieth-century man wasn’t that far removed from his barbarian ancestors.

See ‘UK think tanks and campaigns rated for funding transparency’, Whofundsyou.org, comparison table, undated; ‘How transparent are think tanks about who funds them, a survey of 200 think tanks’, Transparify, June 2016; and Emma Barnett, ‘Cayman Islands sponsors C4 series’, Campaign, 17 November 2008. Don McDougall, a Cayman Department of Tourism official, is quoted as saying ‘followers of the series present exactly the right profile and demographic of visitors to the islands’. Also see ‘DoT remains active in UK’, Cayman Compass, 24 November 2008; and an interview with Ferguson in Daniel W. Dresner, The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas, Oxford University Press, 2017, in which he describes his lucrative journey from Oxford professor to public pundit, saying, ‘I did it all for the money.’ 1. Devereux told me in a phone interview in 2015 that about half the centre’s funding still comes from corporate donations. Its website in 2017 listed seventy-four past and previous donors including AstraZeneca, BAE Systems, BP, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Daily Mail and General Trust, 3I Group, Barclays, ExxonMobil, Rio Tinto plc, SABMiller, and RBS Group, alongside funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.


pages: 514 words: 153,092

The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes

anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, Charles Lindbergh, collective bargaining, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Frederick Winslow Taylor, invisible hand, jobless men, Mahatma Gandhi, plutocrats, Plutocrats, short selling, Upton Sinclair, wage slave, Works Progress Administration

He thought Morgan retained some support from the president on a cooperative concept: the TVA and others, including Commonwealth and Southern, might create “power pools” and sell and buy electricity together. Willkie told reporters he wished he had the $150 back that he had given to the original Roosevelt campaign. Taking him up on his challenge, Akron Democrats wired an offer to pay up, writing: “Before you became a plutocrat you were a good Democrat.” Willkie also exhorted other “disgruntled Democrats” to speak out. Yet later in the year, in December, Willkie had been found rallying members of the Bond Club of New York to recognize the new Roosevelt campaigns for what they were, hate campaigns: “Surely,” he said, “the haters have occupied the stage long enough.” Willkie’s battle was making him nationally famous for the first time, and that part of the story he enjoyed.

At Madison Square Garden, where Coughlin had stood, it was now Roosevelt’s turn to let the invective fly. “I should like to have it said of my first administration,” he told the crowds, “that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces met their master.” Now Wall Streeters had indeed become like the plutocrats featured in New Yorker cartoons—a few small men, isolated in an outsize ballroom. They knew that their fewness worked against them, especially as Roosevelt courted great swaths of society. Roosevelt had not pushed the antilynching legislation that Father Divine hoped for—it was the sort that southern lawmakers would filibuster. But that election autumn he dedicated one of three new buildings—“with more to come”—at Howard University in Washington, telling an audience there were “no forgotten men and no forgotten races.”


pages: 533 words: 145,887

Schismatrix Plus by Bruce Sterling

back-to-the-land, complexity theory, gravity well, industrial robot, informal economy, life extension, plutocrats, Plutocrats, the map is not the territory, the scientific method

As a neutral point in humanity’s factional wars, T-K was crucial to financiers and bankers of every sect. Even the alien Investors, those star-traveling reptiles of enormous wealth, found T-K useful, and favored it with their patronage. And as T-K’s citizens, the Regals, increased their power, smaller factions faltered and fell under their sway. Mars was dotted with bankrupt factions, financially captured and transported to the Martian surface by the T-K plutocrats. Having failed in space, the refugees took Regal charity as ecologists of the sunken gardens. Dozens of factions were quarantined in cheerless redemption camps, isolated from one another, their lives pared to a grim frugality. And the visionary Regals made good use of their power. The factions found themselves trapped in the arcane bioaesthetics of Posthumanist philosophy, subverted constantly by Regal broadcasts, Regal teaching, Regal culture.

Patternists grew out of control and became grotesque webs of fantasy. With these handicaps their colony had faltered. Patternist industries went into decline, outpaced by industrial rivals. Competition had grown much fiercer. The Shaper and Mechanist cartels had turned commercial action into a kind of endemic warfare. The Patternist gamble had failed, and the day came when their entire habitat was bought out from around them by Regal plutocrats. In a way it was a kindness. The Regals were suave and proud of their ability to assimilate refugees and failures. The Regals themselves had started as dissidents and defectors. Their Posthumanist philosophy had given them the moral power and the bland assurance to dominate and absorb factions from the fringes of humanity. And they had the support of the Investors, who had vast wealth and the secret techniques of star travel.


pages: 644 words: 156,395

Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 by Virginia Nicholson

back-to-the-land, British Empire, Etonian, financial independence, ghettoisation, lone genius, plutocrats, Plutocrats

Now with great daring they trespassed on such unladylike territories as foreign restaurants in Soho, public houses, or the cabmen’s shelters where you could get coffee and saveloys at three in the morning. They drank wine at the café Royal or champagne at the Cavendish Hotel in Jermyn Street, whose free-and-easy proprietress Rosa Lewis (‘Ma Lewis’) insisted on charging their consumption of Veuve Clicquot to some unknown plutocrat’s bill. Iris Tree and Nancy Cunard enjoyed the best of both worlds. Iris makes it clear in her memoir of Nancy that they did not fully make the break from their establishment backgrounds. The Bohemian studio was a refuge from the tedium and empty inanity of the London season, and calls, and house-parties, but it was part of a titillating game these debutantes were playing. ‘Transition and danger were in the air’; so too were court balls, champagne and millionaires.


pages: 665 words: 146,542

Money: 5,000 Years of Debt and Power by Michel Aglietta

bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, energy transition, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, German hyperinflation, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, margin call, means of production, money market fund, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Northern Rock, oil shock, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, secular stagnation, seigniorage, shareholder value, special drawing rights, special economic zone, stochastic process, the payments system, the scientific method, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus

The massive sales caused deflation. THE LOGIC OF MONEY IN THE DECADENT ROMAN REPUBLIC The Roman Republic had become a society of inheritors.22 It was also a political society, because only politics allowed access to social recognition. In order to become a senator, it was necessary to inherit a substantial estate. Whoever lost this estate was excluded from the élite. There was a confrontation, then, between a plutocratic logic based only on money and an aristocratic principle founded on heredity. Such a society made upward mobility impossible, and it inevitably slid towards sclerosis. There were two logics governing access to money: money was gained or lost in private business, or it was guaranteed by the state in exchange for services rendered by a patrician family over the generations. Thus, the pureblood patrician Catiline believed that the state owed it to him to guarantee his estate, and he treated Cicero as a usurper.

Roman society had indeed become very unequal in a number of ways. The increasing concentration of wealth that resulted from military conquest had created enormous inequalities between the people (the plebs) and the landowning and political aristocracy. There were also intergenerational inequalities among the patricians, because access to the higher public functions (including Senate elections) was extremely expensive. Finally, this plutocratic society was div