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Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland
Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, call centre, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, 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, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, 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, stem cell, Steve Jobs, 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
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.
Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, Apple II, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, butterfly effect, computer age, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, 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, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Mother of all demos, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Post-materialism, post-materialism, Potemkin village, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, 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.
The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. Korten
Albert Einstein, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, death of newspapers, declining real wages, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, informal economy, 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, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, South Sea Bubble, stem cell, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, trade route, Washington Consensus, 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.
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, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, Naomi Klein, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus
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.
Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer
accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, 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, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, 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, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War
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)  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).
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, 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.
The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen
3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, 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, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, 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 medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator
Little did Licklider imagine, however, that his intergalactic computer network would end up financing the building of an alien spaceship in downtown San Francisco. Chrystia Freeland, the author of Plutocrats64 and an authority on the rise of the new global superrich and the fall of everyone else, has a compelling explanation of why fantasists like Fulk find nostalgic dramas like Downton Abbey so seductive. 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.
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.
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, banking crisis, 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, 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
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.”
affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, 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, 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, invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, 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, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, road to serfdom, 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.
Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton
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.
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, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, 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, 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.
Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, 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, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral hazard, mortgage debt, 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, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, 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, Washington Consensus, working poor, 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.
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, 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, 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, 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 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’.
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.
Anton Chekhov, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, fear of failure, Jane Jacobs, jitney, megastructure, New Urbanism, 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.”
The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule by Thomas Frank
affirmative action, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, 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, 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.
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, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, 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, 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.
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.
Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood
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?
affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, capital controls, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, first-past-the-post, full employment, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, invisible hand, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, neoliberal agenda, obamacare, Occupy movement, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Post-materialism, 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.
A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary by Alain de Botton
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.
banking crisis, British Empire, 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, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, working poor, Works Progress Administration
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. . . .
The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy by Dr. Jim Taylor
British Empire, call centre, dark matter, Donald Trump, estate planning, full employment, glass ceiling, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, 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
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.
banking crisis, British Empire, colonial rule, energy security, informal economy, 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’.
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, 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.
conceptual framework, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, financial independence, Gini coefficient, income inequality, indoor plumbing, land reform, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, Mohammed Bouazizi, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rolodex, 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.
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, bank run, big-box store, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, job automation, 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.
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, 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, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, housing crisis, inflation targeting, investor state dispute settlement, James Dyson, laissez-faire capitalism, market fundamentalism, Monroe Doctrine, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, 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, 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.’
back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, 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, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, medical malpractice, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, oil shock, 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.
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, 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
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.
Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? by Thomas Geoghegan
Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, 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, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, McJob, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, offshore financial centre, 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).
Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones
Asperger Syndrome, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, 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, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Occupy movement, pension reform, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, race to the bottom, 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%, 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.
The Cost of Inequality: Why Economic Equality Is Essential for Recovery by Stewart Lansley
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 process, call centre, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, 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, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, mittelstand, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, 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.
Brian Krebs, dumpster diving, fault tolerance, Firefox, 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.
From Bauhaus to Our House by Tom Wolfe
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.
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, British Empire, centralized clearinghouse, collapse of Lehman Brothers, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, financial deregulation, forensic accounting, Gordon Gekko, index fund, locking in a profit, mail merge, merger arbitrage, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Small Order Execution System, 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.
A History of Western Philosophy by Aaron Finkel
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.
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, California gold rush, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, conceptual framework, corporate governance, 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, 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.
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, labour market flexibility, land reform, 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.”
Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood
accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, corporate governance, 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, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, 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.
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley
23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, 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, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, 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, 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, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra
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.
The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan
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.
When the Iron Lady Ruled Britain by Robert Chesshyre
Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, deskilling, Etonian, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, full employment, housing crisis, manufacturing employment, means of production, North Sea oil, oil rush, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Silicon Valley, the market place, trickle-down economics, union organizing, 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.
The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes
anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, collective bargaining, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Frederick Winslow Taylor, invisible hand, 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.”
Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century by George Gilder
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, capital controls, cleantech, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, 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, 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, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, medical malpractice, minimum wage unemployment, 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, 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
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!
California gold rush, interchangeable parts, 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.
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, central bank independence, centre right, collective bargaining, falling living standards, fiat currency, 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
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.
additive manufacturing, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, 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, crony capitalism, deskilling, disintermediation, 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, intermodal, invisible hand, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Martin Wolf, 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
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, 87 251 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.) political liberalization, 250–254 political participation, 241–243, 250 political parties, 6, 12, 21, 29, 30, 33, 41, 51, 54, 64, 68, 77, 88–89, 93, 95, 99, 103–104, 105, 196, 220, 223, 228, 229, 232, 239– 241, 242, 243, 252 political pluralism, 247 political power, 6, 77, 78, 80, 94, 100, 105, 220, 242, 247, 250 and wars, 118, 143 Polity Project/Polity Score, 250–251, 252(fig.)
Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, clean water, collective bargaining, declining real wages, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, knowledge economy, life extension, lump of labour, new economy, Nick Leeson, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, trade route, very high income, working poor
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.
1960s counterculture, Berlin Wall, book scanning, cuban missile crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Hacker Ethic, Isaac Newton, Marshall McLuhan, mutually assured destruction, Plutocrats, plutocrats, pre–internet, Richard Stallman, search inside the book, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog
Valenti was inviting readers of a newspaper serving the city hardest hit by these attacks to understand the film industry as having endured a parallel trauma. By contrast, Valenti’s description of the industry as temporarily protected by a “great moat” positions the MPAA 105 Pa r l orPr e s s 106 wwwww. p a r l or p r e s s . c om Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion as, at best, a medieval protectorate, and at worst, the sort of plutocratic castle-keep regularly targeted by Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Valenti’s remarks are especially striking given the remarkable success the film industry was experiencing at roughly the same time he was speaking. For the U.S. motion picture industry, the 2002 Memorial Day holiday weekend was among the most lucrative in history. American moviegoers stampeded box offices, spending over $200 million on admissions.
Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne
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.
How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston
affirmative action, carbon footprint, Columbine, dark matter, desegregation, housing crisis, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Rosa Parks, shareholder value, supply-chain management, the scientific method, transatlantic slave trade
Most valuable to me was West’s warning not to see in Barack something he is not: a reincarnation of some great black hope from days gone by: “We don’t expect Alicia Keys to be Sarah Vaughn, and we should not expect Barack Obama to be Frederick Douglass. He is his momma’s son and his daddy’s son,” and, West continued, he is who we need in this country today. Yet now that Obama is in office, West, too, has had a change of heart, referring to President Obama in 2011 as a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” The man who embraced and praised candidate Obama’s biracial identity in 2007 attempted to undermine the authenticity of his American blackness in 2011 by implying that Obama’s white mother and lack of slave blood made him afraid of “free black men,” and bitterly complained that Obama dissed him at inauguration and spent too much time in the company of Jews. Contradictory expectations, perceptions, and criticisms come with the job for any president, but the special turmoil around race is a unique feature of a black U.S. presidency, and Obama’s campaign and first term should serve as a valuable model for those of you who might pursue that path someday.
Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado
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.
Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton
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.
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, 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.
Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Grace Hopper, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, James Dyson, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, 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
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.
Masters of Mankind by Noam Chomsky
affirmative action, Berlin Wall, failed state, income inequality, land reform, Martin Wolf, means of production, nuremberg principles, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, 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
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.
Digital Barbarism: A Writer's Manifesto by Mark Helprin
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, computer age, crowdsourcing, hive mind, invention of writing, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Plutocrats, plutocrats, race to the bottom, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, the scientific method, Yogi Berra
, seventy years from my death the rights to it, though taxed at inheritance, would be stripped from my children and grandchildren. To the objection that this provision strikes malefactors of great wealth, one might ask, first, where the inheritors of Sylvia Plath berth their 200-foot yachts. And, second, why, when such a stiff penalty is not applied to the owners of Rockefeller Center or Wal-Mart, it is brought to bear against legions of harmless drudges who other than a handful of literary plutocrats (manufacturers, really) are destined by the nature of things to be no more financially secure than a seal in the Central Park Zoo.” This was not, however, merely a rhetorical question: “The answer is that the Constitution states unambiguously that Congress shall have the power ‘To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.’
Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider
Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K
Senator Dodd joined Barney Frank in a vague call for legislation but added that he is “a strong advocate of subprime lending.” New Century has given Dodd $15,000 since 2003, and Frank ranked ninth on the list of mortgage banking contributions, with $54,550 in 2006. Congress now has a decision to make: Should those thousands of dollars be in their pockets, or in those of the millions losing their homes? Hedging Bets J O R D A N S TA N C I L June 14, 2007 Hedge fundsseem to have been designed as the ideal plu-tocratic villain for some novel of financial intrigue. These highly secretive investment groups control more than $1 trillion in assets but are so heavily leveraged that their total positions are thought to equal more than $3 trillion. The essence of their business is speculation, which they engage in on the basis of proprietary mathematical models that are guarded more closely than state secrets. The managers rake in obscene sums of money—the highest-paid made $1.7 billion in 2006.
asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global reserve currency, Home mortgage interest deduction, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, market clearing, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, pattern recognition, pension reform, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, pushing on a string, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, The Great Moderation, the payments system, too big to fail, value at risk, very high income, War on Poverty, Y2K, yield curve
THE BIRTH OF BIG GOVERNMENT Suddenly, the government was getting the tools, at least in embryo, to manage and regulate the economy—something the Founding Fathers never could have imagined. How did this happen? Three decisive changes explain a lot. First, economic power in America became radically concentrated by the rise of giant corporations like U.S. Steel and Standard Oil. This power was widely abused through monopoly and financial manipulation, producing an unlovable class of super-rich, vulgar plutocrats the press labeled as ‘‘robber barons,’’ though to their credit most robber barons actually founded their companies, indeed whole industries, and many started life poor. Second, the United States became an urban, industrial society where most people for the first time depended on formal employment in big companies for a living. Up until 1880 or so, most Americans more or less worked for themselves.
Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg, James Howard (frw) Kunstler
anti-communist, back-to-the-land, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demographic transition, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Fractional reserve banking, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, land reform, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, urban planning
Personally, as a historian, I tend to be much more sympathetic to the Left because I think that the amount of wealth a few people accumulated was just obscene. I suspect that a hell of a lot of suffering could have been averted if all of that wealth had been spread around early on, when the money was worth something. But to hear some of the leftist leaders talk, you’d think that once all the corporations had been reined in, once the billionaire plutocrats had been relieved of their riches, everything would be fine. Well, everything wasn’t going to be fine, no way. So here were these two political factions fighting to the death, blaming each other, while everybody around them was starving or going crazy. What the people really needed was just some basic commonsense information and advice, somebody to tell them the truth — their way of life was coming to an end — and to offer them some sensible collective survival strategies.
The Payoff by Jeff Connaughton
algorithmic trading, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Flash crash, locking in a profit, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, naked short selling, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, short selling, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, two-sided market, young professional
During my twenty-three years in Washington, I saw government attract thousands of idealistic, energetic young people from across the country and lead many of them to make compromises that drew them deeper into a corrupt system. The initial magnetism of politics is far different from its day-to-day reality; for most people, careerism and the weight of years inevitably crushes idealism. Those years changed me, as well. I came to DC a Democrat and left a plutocrat. With his term nearly over, Senator Kaufman suggested we start a not-for-profit to keep fighting the Washington-Wall Street nexus on behalf of the rule of law and the average investor. For me, it was a Pogo moment. I said: “Ted, we’ve met the enemy, and the enemy is us.” I didn’t want to stay in DC and keep losing in hand-to-hand combat against Wall Street (or worse, rejoin the Permanent Class).
Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
All the ships of the Foundation Navy could have flown to Haven or other nearby planets to continue the fight as we did. Not one percent did so. In effect, they deserted to the enemy. “The Foundation underground, upon which most people here seem to rely so heavily, has thus far done nothing of consequence. The Mule has been politic enough to promise to safeguard the property and profits of the great Traders and they have gone over to him.” Ebling Mis said stubbornly, “The plutocrats have always been against us.” “They always held the power, too. Listen, Ebling. We have reason to believe that the Mule or his tools have already been in contact with powerful men among the Independent Traders. At least ten of the twenty-seven Trading Worlds are known to have gone over to the Mule. Perhaps ten more waver. There are personalities on Haven itself who would not be unhappy over the Mule’s domination.
The Haves and the Have-Nots by Branko Milanovic
Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, colonial rule, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, purchasing power parity, Simon Kuznets, very high income, Washington Consensus
Greco-Roman historian Cassius Dio describes Octavian’s treatment of public and private funds: “nominally the public revenues had been separated from his own, but in practice the former, too, were spent as he saw fit.”6 As one of the most eminent Roman historians, Walter Scheidel from Stanford, says, emperors’ behavior was probably similar to the way today’s Saudi rulers or Saddam Hussein treat private and public purses.7 No doubt about one thing: The emperors were extremely rich. But they were not the only rich people in the Empire. A lot of wealth came from the administration and plunder of provinces; in a metaphor by the famous English economist Alfred Marshall, “it was dug by the sword, not the spade.”8 We have already seen (in Vignette 1.3) that probably the richest man in the history of the Roman Empire was not an emperor. Rome was a plutocratic society where class segmentation was based on a combination of holding a hereditary title and having huge current wealth. To make sure that both conditions were fulfilled, there were explicit censuses (wealth qualifications) for the top three classes: senators, the equestrian order (the knights), and decurions (or municipal senators). The first two classes resided in Rome (or in the rest of Italy); the third one was, as the name indicates, dispersed across the Empire.
Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America by Tamara Draut
affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, battle of ideas, big-box store, blue-collar work, collective bargaining, David Brooks, declining real wages, deindustrialization, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, ending welfare as we know it, Ferguson, Missouri, financial deregulation, full employment, immigration reform, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, occupational segregation, payday loans, pink-collar, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trickle-down economics, union organizing, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, white flight, women in the workforce, young professional
Eileen Fumagalli and Gaia Narciso, “Political Institutions, Voter Turnout, and Policy Outcomes,” European Journal of Political Economy 28 (2012): 162–73, available at http://www.tcd.ie/Economics/staff/narcisog/docs/FN2012.pdf. 9. Thomas Lopez, “Shelby County: One Year Later,” Brennan Center for Justice, June 24, 2014, at http://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/Shelby_County_One_Year_Later.pdf. 10. Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (New York: Penguin, 2014); Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future (New York: Norton, 2013). 11. Blair Bowie and Adam Lioz, “Billion-Dollar Democracy: The Unprecedented Role of Money in the 2012 Elections,” Demos, January 17, 2013, at http://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/billion.pdf. 12.
Borrow: The American Way of Debt by Louis Hyman
asset-backed security, barriers to entry, big-box store, cashless society, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, deindustrialization, deskilling, diversified portfolio, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, market bubble, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, technology bubble, transaction costs, women in the workforce
Regulations may have changed to promote a certain kind of financial system, but at no point did the state abandon the market to itself. It was the interplay of public and private—Freddie Mac, S&Ls, mortgage-backed securities—that made these new sources of capital possible. The newest source of capital, however, proved to be an old one. S&Ls battled for savers’ deposits, but that money, by the 1970s and ’80s, was going increasingly to pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s. A huge fraction of CMO bondholders were not plutocrats but working stiffs. In 1981, the Labor Department expanded the limits on mortgage investments by pension funds. In the first offering of S&L mortgage-backed securities, Fannie Mae sold 43 percent of the bonds to pension funds.87 Pensions wanted long-term investments to match their long-term needs. For union or public-sector pensions, supporting housing also meant good PR with the membership.88 The losses of the thrifts were the gains of the investors, who could buy bonds with an effective 15 percent yield, which was better than that of AAA corporate bonds then paying 14 percent.89 The 1 percent difference, coupled with the implicit government guarantee, drove the demand for mortgage-backed securities through the roof.
bank run, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bolshevik threat, Boycotts of Israel, Bretton Woods, British Empire, California gold rush, capital controls, collective bargaining, Etonian, financial deregulation, German hyperinflation, index arbitrage, interest rate swap, margin call, Monroe Doctrine, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, paper trading, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, strikebreaker, the market place, the payments system, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, 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?
Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
Then on reflection she lifted her TV controller and turned her office television to CNN for a look at what was happening around the world. It was the top of the hour, and the lead story was the thing in Vienna. God, what a house was her first thought. Like a king's palace, a huge waste of resources for one man, or even one large family, to use as a private residence. What was it Winston had said of the owner? Good people? Sure. All good people lived like wastrels, glomming up precious resources like that. Another goddamned plutocrat, stock trader, currency speculator, however he earned the money to buy a place like that-and then terrorists had invaded his privacy. Well, gee, she thought, I wonder why they picked him. No sense attacking a sheep farmer or truck driver. Terrorists went after the moneyed people, or the supposedly important ones, because going for ordinary folks had little in the way of a political point, and these were, after all, political acts.
They'd taken just two votes-actually, mere polls of the cabinet members, since the President had the only real vote, as he'd made clear a few times, Carol reminded herself. The meeting broke up, and people headed out of the building. "Hi, George," Dr. Brightling greeted the Secretary of the Treasury. "Hey, Carol, the trees hugging back yet?" he asked with a smile. "Always," she laughed in reply to this ignorant plutocrat. "Catch the TV this morning?" "What about?" "The thing in Spain-' "Oh, yeah, Worldpark. What about it?" "Who were those masked men?" "Carol, if you have to ask, then you're not cleared into it." "I don't want their phone number, George," she replied, allowing him to hold open the door for her. "And I am cleared for just about everything, remember?" SecTreas had to admit that this was true.
But this Serov chappie is, and that's a fact, my boy." O'Neil swore something at odds with his Catholicism. He recognized the account number, knew that Sean had written it down, and was reasonably certain that this cop wasn't lying to him about what had happened with it. "He flew into Shannon on a private business jet. I do not know where from." "Really?" "Probably because of the drugs he brought in with him. They don't search plutocrats, do they? Bloody nobility, they act like." "What kind of aircraft, do you know?" O'Neil shook his head. "It had two engines and the tail was shaped like a T, but no, I do not know the name of the bloody thing." "And how did he get to the meeting?" "We had a car meet him." "Who drove the car?" the inspector asked next. "I will not give you names. I've told you that." "Forgive me, Tim, but I must ask.
Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond
Writer Robert Frank observed that the wealthy inhabited a different country—Richistan.3 Gains from recent economic growth flowed disproportionately to the wealthy, who benefited from market-friendly governments, favorable tax regimes, protection of property rights, globalization, and technological change, and financial innovation and deregulation. The top 10 percent of earners received the majority of the benefits of the productivity miracle of 1996–2005.4 Wealthy plutocrats both powered and benefited from economic growth. The Forbes 400 richest people in 2006 controlled $1,250 billion, up $92 billion from 1982. To make it on to the list in 2006 you had to have a billion, compared to $75 million in 1982. This money was invested, making more money to fund consumption or simply to attest to wealth. For the wealthy, financialization of life was trading and speculation; using money was a means to an end and an end in itself.
Increasing international trade and globalization meant that jobs were outsourced to developing countries, where labor costs were lower. This brought new wealth to emerging nations but depressed wages and living standards in developed countries. Immigration, both legal and illegal, affected incomes, especially in lower-skilled jobs. The changing labor market and erosion of safety nets meant that individuals and families, other than the plutocrats, lived a precarious existence. Some borrowed to finance consumption or resorted to financial speculation to offset declining income and safeguard their future, increasingly with borrowed money. Home equity—the difference between the current value of the family home and the amount owed on it—provided the initial financial stake. George Bernard Shaw knew this connection between speculation and wealth: “Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich, something for nothing.”
The Rough Guide to Florence & the Best of Tuscany by Tim Jepson, Jonathan Buckley, Rough Guides
In the 1470s he set about acquiring properties in this locality, with a view to demolishing them and raising a new house on the land; in the end, a dozen town houses were razed to make space for the mighty palazzo, which was built between 1489 and 1536 to a design by Giuliano da Sangallo. Not until the 1930s did the Strozzi family relinquish ownership of the building, which is now state property. The interior is open only for special exhibitions. The Palazzo Rucellai 96 Some of Florence’s other plutocrats made an impression with a touch more subtlety than the Strozzi. In the 1440s Giovanni Rucellai, one of the richest businessmen in the city (and an esteemed scholar too), decided to commission a new house from Leon Battista Alberti, whose accomplishments as architect, mathematician, linguist and theorist of the arts prompted a contemporary to exclaim, “Where shall I put Battista Alberti: in what category of learned men shall I place him?”
Francis – who never became a priest – had intended his monks to live as itinerants, begging for alms when necessary, and preaching without the use of churches, let alone churches the size of Santa Croce. After his death, this radical stance was quickly abandoned by many of his followers, with the backing of a papacy anxious to institutionalize a potentially troublesome mass movement. Ironically, it was Florence’s richest families who funded the construction of Santa Croce, to atone for the sin of usury on which their fortunes were based. Plutocrats such as the Bardi, Peruzzi and Baroncelli sponsored the extraordinary fresco cycles that were lavished on the chapels over the years, particularly during the fourteenth century, when artists of the stature of Giotto and the Gaddi family worked here. In further contradiction of the Franciscan ideal #BEJB 7 *" $BTBEJ%BOUF 7 *" % * . & ; ; 0 3* 4.BSHIFSJUB 7*"%"/5&"-*()*&3* 3( #0 1*";;" ("&50/0 4"-7&.*/* * *"-#*; #03(0%&(- 7*"%&-$0340 * " -%& " (* 64 1BMB[[P /POmOJUP * & 4ZOBHPHVF 53 /5 0 "4 N *- - - 1 %& 1BMB[[P 3 * 6 0 - 0 % * 0 EFHMJ"MCJ[[J & E AST OF THE C E NTRE 7*" 4.BSUJOP 5FBUSP EFMMB 1FSHPMB % .VTFPEJ 7 'JSFO[FDPNFSB * " 4 " 1*";;"%&-%60.0 " .VTFPEFMM 0QFSBEFM %VPNP 4BOUB.BSJB .BEEBMFOB EFJ1B[[J 1& 3( 7/ 60 7"% &$ 7*$ "$ 1& %&$*/ 3( -" * 0- " 7* %VPNP 7*" 0- * ( "/ */* -' 0' "3 *" 7* 0TQFEBMFEJ 4BOUB.BSJB /VPWB 0 (- " &"450'5)&$&/53& %& 3( " #0 7* Florence’s floods | Santa Croce The calamity of the November 1966 ﬂood had plenty of precedents.
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, colonial rule, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, European colonialism, experimental economics, experimental subject, George Akerlof, income per capita, invention of the telephone, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, law of one price, Martin Wolf, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, women in the workforce
A CEO who captained a firm to profit growth of 20 percent a year would earn just 1 percent more than one who managed only 10 percent growth a year. Under the circumstances, it would not be surprising if CEOs neglected the key job of making the company more successful and retreated into covering their backs and ticking the right boxes. That was then. Times have changed, and CEOs are no longer paid like bureaucrats but rather like plutocrats—or, arguably, like kleptocrats. In 2005, incentive-based pay schemes—variable bonuses, perks, and long-term incentives—were the chief source of CEO pay in the United States and almost every other rich country. Starting in the 1980s, CEO pay started to become much more responsive to how well the company actually did. For instance, by the mid-1990s, a CEO at the helm of a company in the bottom third of share-price performance relative to other companies would make about one million dollars a year; a CEO running a top-third company would make five times more than that.
The Misbehavior of Markets by Benoit Mandelbrot
Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Brownian motion, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, carbon-based life, discounted cash flows, diversification, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Elliott wave, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, implied volatility, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market microstructure, new economy, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, stochastic volatility, transfer pricing, value at risk, volatility smile
Clearly, I surmised, a power law was at work—just as in Zipf’s word frequencies and Pareto’s income curve. The size of price changes varied in the same way. A great many small price movements are found in the same cotton market with a few enormous jumps; a great many rare words are in the dictionary with a small number of common words; vast legions of poor people coexist in the world with a privileged few plutocrats. Uneven. Unfair, perhaps. But still indisputable. That was part of my hypothesis. How to test it? Well, if I was right, then I should be able to find a particular value of alpha that governs the cotton price curve—just as Pareto thought he had found an alpha of 3/2 for income. So I followed Pareto’s lead and drew a diagram for cotton prices on log-log paper. Seeing the plots, at last, was satisfying.
The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson; Kate Pickett
Berlin Wall, clean water, Diane Coyle, epigenetics, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, impulse control, income inequality, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land reform, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, offshore financial centre, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey
Meanwhile, all these problems are most common in the most deprived areas of our society and are many times more common in more unequal societies. WHAT DOES INCOME INEQUALITY TELL US? Before proceeding, in the following chapters, to look at how the scale of income differences may be related to other problems, we should say a few words about what we think income differences tell us about a society. Human beings have lived in every kind of society, from the most egalitarian prehistoric hunting and gathering societies, to the most plutocratic dictatorships. Although modern market democracies fall into neither of those extremes, it is reasonable to assume that there are differences in how hierarchical they are. We believe that this is what income inequality is measuring. Where income differences are bigger, social distances are bigger and social stratification more important. It would be nice to have lots of different indicators of the scale of hierarchy in different countries – to be able to compare inequalities not only in income, but also in wealth, education and power.
The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? by Polly Toynbee, David Walker
banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, call centre, central bank independence, congestion charging, Corn Laws, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, Etonian, failed state, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, high net worth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, market bubble, millennium bug, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, shareholder value, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, working-age population, Y2K
Still, foreign cash had perked up attendance: during the 2008–9 season 37 million attended football matches in England and Wales, up from 29 million in 2003–4, figures last seen when Hey Jude topped the charts. Few would turn the clock back even though parochial fans habitually exaggerated the quality of the Premiership over the Bundesliga or Serie A. Yet in Germany, clubs were obliged by law and custom to maintain local and mutual structures, and to keep gate prices down; in Italy, the plutocrats were at least home-grown and, in the case of the president of AC Milan, Silvio Berlusconi, Italians could even vote against him. What English club football exchanged for money, new stadiums and foreign players was fairness, stoicism and localism. A similar story unfolded in the gents’ games of cricket and rugby union. Labour intervened occasionally, protecting events of national significance by insisting they had to be shown free-to-air.
Underground, Overground by Andrew Martin
The Chelsea Monster, as it became known, was built on a bend of the river that the romantic, but stroppy, artist James McNeill Whistler had often depicted in his ‘Nocturnes’, and he is said to have remarked that the builders ‘ought to be drawn and quartered’. So here were two Americans appropriating a bank of the Thames: Yerkes for industry, Whistler for art. Lots Road Power Station in Fulham or, as estate agents say, Chelsea. It opened in 1904, and powered the underground railways of the American plutocrat, Charles Yerkes. Today, the Underground is powered from the National Grid. Lots Road was de-commissioned in 2002, and only two of the four towers remain. The silent film Underground (1928), directed by Anthony Asquith, features a genuinely gripping chase sequence across its roof. Yerkes provocatively offered to supply the Metropolitan from Lots Road. But the Met would build its own power station at Neasden (demolished in 1968), and its coal would be brought by rail, whereas Lots Road was supplied by barge.
Steampunk Prime: A Vintage Steampunk Reader by Mike Ashley, Paul Di Filippo
Madame Helena Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875, maintained that her books Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888) had been projected to her telepathically by secret Mahatmas in the Himalayas. Blavatsky settled in London in 1887 and spent her final years there, dying in 1891. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an occult society with many theosophists amongst its members, was founded in 1888. In Caesar’s Column (1890), Ignatius Donnelly suggested that in the future (the book is set at the end of the twentieth century) a small group of wealthy but ruthless plutocrats are the real rulers of Earth, operating either through governments or by manipulating the press. The idea was further implanted in popular fiction through the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle run in The Strand Magazine, starting in 1891. Holmes often finds himself pitted against evil masterminds or secret organisations. The success of the Holmes stories left the publisher and editor of The Strand, George Newnes and Greenhough Smith, in a quandary when, in 1893, Conan Doyle killed off Holmes with his dramatic struggle with Professor Moriarty and their plunge into the Reichenbach Falls.
Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement by Amy Lang, Daniel Lang/levitsky
Bay Area Rapid Transit, bonus culture, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, facts on the ground, glass ceiling, housing crisis, Kibera, late capitalism, Naomi Klein, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Port of Oakland, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Slavoj Žižek, structural adjustment programs, the medium is the message, too big to fail, trade liberalization, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, white flight, working poor
He knew that the spectacle of nonviolent white youth being viciously attacked would drive media coverage and public sympathy for the Freedom Movement in a way that the murder and jailing of black activists would not. Things do change, but some things change less than we’d like. The second thing the wave of occupations has done is inject a note of reality into the nation’s political discourse. The plain truth is that Democrats don’t rule. Republicans don’t rule. Corporations reign. Plutocrats decide. Finance capital rules. Capitalism works for the 1% and against the other 99%, and is therefore fundamentally illegitimate. Discredited are the nonsense phrases about how ‘government has to live within its means’, and ‘the rich are the job-creators’. ‘We are the 99%’ may not be deep analysis of political economy, but it’s a promising start, an open door, an invitation to investigate and explain how inequality and injustice are not bugs in the system, but have always been its basic features.
The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber
Bretton Woods, British Empire, corporate personhood, David Graeber, deindustrialization, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, financial innovation, George Gilder, Lao Tzu, late fees, Occupy movement, payday loans, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, We are the 99%, working poor
Here, too, we witnessed something extraordinary. Beyond students, the constituencies that rallied the most quickly were, above all, working class. This might not seem that surprising considering the movement’s own emphasis on economic inequality; but in fact it is. Historically, those who have successfully appealed to class populism in the United States have done so largely from the right, and have focused on professors more than plutocrats. In the weeks just before the occupation, the blogosphere had been full of contemptuous dismissals of appeals for educational debt relief as the whining of pampered elitists.7 And it’s certainly true that historically the plight of the indebted college graduate would hardly be the sort of issue that would speak directly to the hearts of, say, members of New York City’s Transit Workers Union. But this time it clearly did.
Saturn's Children by Stross, Charles
augmented reality, British Empire, business process, gravity well, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, loose coupling, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Plutocrats, plutocrats, theory of mind
Because, now you’ve had the Block Two skill set imprinted, you’re equipped as a spy and a killer, a mistress of disguise and a cold-blooded murderess.” (I feel skeletal struts breaking between my fingers, triggers pulled, knives stabbed.) “You can pass for an aristo, and nobody will ever know any better. You can kill an aristo and take her identity and fortune and be an aristo, if you’re tough enough.” (I see myself standing over the crumpled wreckage of a slave-owning plutocrat, staring down at her body with fascinated surmise.) “What is the Block Three template?” I ask. She doesn’t reply directly. Instead a liquid like night seems to wash over my soul, and I’m Rhea again. We all start out as Rhea, until they shine a light in our eyes and tell us we’re not, we’re some other name, and we’re on our own in the world now. For my first eighteen years I grew up as Rhea, as did Juliette and Emma and the rest of us.
The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross
3D printing, Ayatollah Khomeini, butterfly effect, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, Drosophila, epigenetics, Extropian, gravity well, greed is good, haute couture, hive mind, margin call, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, telepresence, Turing machine, Turing test, union organizing
I came as soon as I could, after the summons came to light.” “Do you know why your clerk misfiled the court’s papers?” asks the second orc, deceptively calmly. “That is a very good question,” Giuliani says. “I believe certain parties in Glory City—while we were there attending to unpleasant but unavoidable businesses—suborned him. There are rumors about the depraved and perverted practices of the pulchritudinous protestant puritan plutocratic penis-people priesthood, of shadowy bacchanalian polyamorous practices. ... I suspect, to be blunt, someone was blackmailing him.” “You suspect? You did not investigate—?” “Hell, no!” says Giuliani, “I exterminate! All enemies of the—” The chair clears her throat. “This is rather disturbing,” she says. “Especially in view of the representations recently received.” For a moment the officers of the Planning Committee freeze and turn blurry and blue, segueing into quicktime to confer at leisure.
The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr
Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!
The belief in technology as a benevolent, self-healing, autonomous force is seductive. It allows us to feel optimistic about the future while relieving us of responsibility for that future. It particularly suits the interests of those who have become extraordinarily wealthy through the labor-saving, profit-concentrating effects of automated systems and the computers that control them. It provides our new plutocrats with a heroic narrative in which they play starring roles: recent job losses may be unfortunate, but they’re a necessary evil on the path to the human race’s eventual emancipation by the computerized slaves that our benevolent enterprises are creating. Peter Thiel, a successful entrepreneur and investor who has become one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent thinkers, grants that “a robotics revolution would basically have the effect of people losing their jobs.”
Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets by John Plender
Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, diversification, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labour market flexibility, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Menlo Park, moral hazard, moveable type in China, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, too big to fail, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck
Yet Aristotle’s argument in Book Five of his Politics that great economic inequality encourages the rich to seek a share of power matching their share of economic resources is an accurate description of what has been happening in much of the developed world – not least in the US, where the Supreme Court doctrine enunciated in the Citizens United case that money in politics deserves the protections accorded to speech has given carte blanche to business plutocrats to spend limitless billions in pursuit of their own political ends. There are big risks inherent in a system where increasingly powerful elites grab an ever larger share of the national pie. One is that when disadvantaged people with low incomes observe that the political agenda has been corralled by the higher-income elite, they conclude that there is little point engaging with the game of politics and feel that taxes are an unfair imposition.
The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins by James Angelos
said the man with the flyers. “We know our future. They’ll throw us out onto the street.” When the train reached the station nearest to ERT, the protesters spilled out onto a suburban boulevard lined with furniture and electronics stores. Outside the broadcaster’s headquarters were assembled a dizzying array of far-left parties and organizations, divided by internecine squabbles yet united in their opposition to the plutocratic government. They all gathered, amid the many banners depicting the hammer and sickle, to chant slogans of support for ERT’s ergazomenoi (“the workers”), a word that has sacred connotation for the Greek left. The workers, in the left’s dualist worldview, were always on the righteous side in the class struggle against the bosses. While Greece indeed had an oligarchical class of crony capitalists that inflicted a lot of harm on the country, the left seemed to possess a lover’s blindness when it came to the inadequacies of the ergazomenoi that constituted Greece’s public administration.
The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling
Apple II, back-to-the-land, game design, ghettoisation, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, index card, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, pirate software, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Silicon Valley, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review
They often come from fairly well-to-do middle-class backgrounds, and are markedly anti-materialistic (except, that is, when it comes to computer equipment). Anyone motivated by greed for mere money (as opposed to the greed for power, knowledge and status) is swiftly written-off as a narrow-minded breadhead whose interests can only be corrupt and contemptible. Having grown up in the 1970s and 1980s, the young Bohemians of the digital underground regard straight society as awash in plutocratic corruption, where everyone from the President down is for sale and whoever has the gold makes the rules. Interestingly, there's a funhouse-mirror image of this attitude on the other side of the conflict. The police are also one of the most markedly anti-materialistic groups in American society, motivated not by mere money but by ideals of service, justice, esprit-de-corps, and, of course, their own brand of specialized knowledge and power.
The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good by Robert H. Frank
carbon footprint, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, clean water, congestion charging, corporate governance, deliberate practice, full employment, income inequality, invisible hand, Plutocrats, plutocrats, positional goods, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, smart grid, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, winner-take-all economy
Nothing in the example suggested that the factory owner was wealthier and hence better able to do so. Perhaps the Latina wheelchair-bound factory owner was barely able to keep her business afloat and employed fifty hard-working, churchgoing, nondrinking, salt-ofthe-earth employees, each the sole support of a wife and two kids and a dog and a cat. And perhaps the single playboy dermatologist had an incredibly lucrative practice polishing up the complexions of the idle wives of plutocrats and played golf three afternoons a week. In the absence of any such countervailing considerations, we must consider the possibility that the traditional perpetrators-and-victims moral framework was simply misguided or question-begging. That is, we must consider the possibility that the most sensible way to define rights in situations like these is, as Coase suggested, to mimic as closely as possible the solutions people would have negotiated on their own if negotiations had been practical.
3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, debt deflation, deskilling, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce
The plutocracy would shut itself away in gated communities or in elite cities, perhaps guarded by autonomous military robots and drones. In other words, we would see a return to something like the feudal system that prevailed during the Middle Ages. There would be one very important difference, however: medieval serfs were essential to the system since they provided the agricultural labor. In a futuristic world governed by automated feudalism, the peasants would be largely superfluous. The 2013 movie Elysium, in which the plutocrats migrate to an Eden-like artificial world in Earth orbit, does a pretty good job of bringing this dystopian vision of the future to life. Even some economists have started to worry about this scenario. Noah Smith, a popular economics blogger, warned in a 2014 post of a possible future in which “a teeming, ragged mass of lumpen humanity teeters on the edge of starvation” outside the gates that protect the elite, and that “unlike the tyrannies of Stalin and Mao, robot-enforced tyranny will be robust to shifts in popular opinion.
The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction by Matthew B. Crawford
airport security, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, collateralized debt obligation, David Brooks, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, digital Maoism, Google Glasses, hive mind, index card, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, large denomination, new economy, new new economy, online collectivism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Richard Thaler, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, the built environment, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Walter Mischel, winner-take-all economy
This essay was originally published in 1846. 10. Ibid., 25. 11. Ibid., 15–16. 12. Wilfred McClay, “The Family that Shoulds Together,” The Hedgehog Review, Fall 2013, 25–26. 13. Let us pause to consider how the inequalities that are rife in American society relate to the kind of differentiation that Kierkegaard defends. One problem with our big disparities of wealth is that (as Aristotle said in the Politics) plutocrats always think that superiority in this one dimension (wealth) is an indication of superiority in every dimension, and therefore a title to rule. In our time, we call this assumption “meritocracy.” (Mitt Romney was certain he was “the smartest guy in the room” because he was the richest guy in the room.) Because this pretense is so patently false, I think it makes us suspicious of all kinds of hierarchy as having some kind of bad faith at its origin.
Money: The Unauthorized Biography by Felix Martin
bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, David Graeber, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invention of writing, invisible hand, Irish bank strikes, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, Plutocrats, plutocrats, private military company, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, South Sea Bubble, supply-chain management, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail
He offers to treat the demoralised Koreiko to dinner at the finest restaurant in Moscow, but when they try to catch the train back to the capital, they are refused seats because they are not part of the official delegation. Undeterred, the newly minted millionaire Bender heads for the local airfield, where he has spotted a plane about to leave. This, too, is not available, however: it is a “special flight” reserved for use according to the Plan. In the end, a group of passing Kazakh nomads are the only ones who will take their roubles, and the two plutocrats are reduced to travelling back by camel. They have no more luck with lodgings. In one town, they are told that all hotel beds are already allocated to a congress of visiting soil scientists; in another, to the construction workers building a new power station. Eventually, Bender is forced to resort to “what he used to do while the possessor of empty pockets. He began assuming false identities, such as engineer, medical officer, or tenor … to get a room.”25 The million roubles he lusted after for so long have turned out to be virtually useless—since in the command economy, there is virtually nothing for them to buy.
The Narcissist Next Door by Jeffrey Kluger
Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bernie Madoff, Columbine, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, impulse control, Jony Ive, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, theory of mind, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Walter Mischel
That kind of naked racial hatred cloaked as self-defense has long since been unwelcome in the more mainstream political community, but even there, the demonizing-the-other game goes on unabated. The radical right sees the left not simply as advocating for a different set of policies and ideas, but as scheming to establish a one-world government ruled by the UN or the socialists or who-knows-who. The radical left ripostes with its own particular lunacies, fancying a world of plutocrats dressed up like the millionaire on a Monopoly card, conniving with Wall Street and the international banks to hoard the world’s wealth. In fairness to the left, the wing nuts have not gotten inside the Democratic Party the way their opposite number on the right has co-opted a significant portion of the GOP. But on both sides, the extremists are relying on the idea that it’s hard to make monsters of the opposing group if the principles at stake are complicated and nuanced.
Paper Promises by Philip Coggan
accounting loophole / creative accounting, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, delayed gratification, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, paradox of thrift, peak oil, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, trade route, tulip mania, value at risk, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce
As money was lent to buy assets, asset prices soared. Trading on the financial markets became the route to riches. It is no coincidence that hedge funds and private equity companies, two industries that profit from easy credit and rising asset prices, have flourished in the last few decades. Whereas the new billionaires in the developing world still earn their fortunes from industry and natural resources, the developed world’s plutocrats increasingly come from the world of finance. Luck and leverage can turn a trader into a genius. Asset prices could not go up for ever. The crisis of 2007 – 08 overwhelmed the banks and governments felt obliged to step in for fear of widespread economic collapse. This has happened many times in the past. A government (or its agent, the central bank) is often the lender of last resort, since it can pay its debts out of taxes, or by printing money.
Zero-Sum Future: American Power in an Age of Anxiety by Gideon Rachman
Asian financial crisis, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, currency manipulation / currency intervention, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, global reserve currency, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, laissez-faire capitalism, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, offshore financial centre, open borders, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, RAND corporation, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Sinatra Doctrine, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Myth of the Rational Market, Thomas Malthus, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent
But when American unemployment rose sharply in the wake of the Great Recession, that belief began to crumble in the United States. By the beginning of 2010, the basic rate of American unemployment stood at around 10 percent—but it rose to 17 percent once “discouraged” workers and part-timers who would prefer full-time work were included. At the Davos meeting in January 2010, Larry Summers, President Obama’s chief economic adviser, told the assembled plutocrats that one in five American male workers between ages twenty-five and fifty-five was now unemployed. In the 1960s, 95 percent of the same group had been in work. Summers strongly implied that Chinese trade policies were partly to blame—and he was not alone in his diagnosis.9 Even mainstream American economists were beginning to blame Chinese “mercantilism” for financial instability and job losses in America.
Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr
Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator
The belief in technology as a benevolent, self-healing, autonomous force is seductive. It allows us to feel optimistic about the future while relieving us of responsibility for that future. It particularly suits the interests of those who have become extraordinarily wealthy through the labor-saving, profit-concentrating effects of automated systems and the computers that control them. It provides our new plutocrats with a heroic narrative in which they play starring roles: Recent job losses may be unfortunate, but they’re a necessary evil on the path to the human race’s eventual emancipation by the computerized slaves that our benevolent enterprises are creating. Peter Thiel, a successful entrepreneur and investor who has become one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent thinkers, grants that “a robotics revolution would basically have the effect of people losing their jobs.”
The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead by David Callahan
1960s counterculture, affirmative action, corporate governance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, forensic accounting, full employment, game design, greed is good, high batting average, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, job satisfaction, market fundamentalism, McMansion, microcredit, moral hazard, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Oldenburg, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, young professional
In 1998, the Gingrich Congress passed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which limited the ways that the IRS could pursue tax cheats. Although the law curbed some actual abuses, the real agenda of House Republicans was to weaken the IRS. Money from corporations and wealthy individuals funded a "grassroots" campaign to help pass the law. In a rare public unmasking of the right's tendency to disguise plutocratic goals in populist clothing, many of the "average people" who testified before Congress about IRS abuses were found to be phonies. According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, most of the IRS sob stories turned out to be patently false.32 The Taxpayer Bill of Rights was a huge victory for all tax cheats, but its main beneficiaries are taxpayers wealthy enough to afford accountants or lawyers who know the ins and outs of the law, and can exploit its provisions to make the IRS back off.
The Meritocracy Myth by Stephen J. McNamee
affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, collective bargaining, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, estate planning, failed state, fixed income, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, helicopter parent, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, job automation, joint-stock company, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, occupational segregation, pink-collar, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, prediction markets, profit motive, race to the bottom, random walk, school choice, Scientific racism, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, white flight, young professional
From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. New York: Sage. Forbes, John Hazard. 2010. Old Money America: Aristocracy in the Age of Obama. New York: iUniverse. Frank, Robert H. 1999. Luxury Fever: Why Money Fails to Satisfy in an Era of Excess. New York: Free Press. ———. 2007. Richistan: A Journey through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. New York: Crown. Freeland, Chrystia. 2012. Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. New York: Penguin. Frey, Bruno S., and Alois Stutzer. 2002. Happiness and Economics: How the Economy and Institutions Affect Well-Being. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1958. The Affluent Society. New York: Mentor Press. Gilens, Martin. 2012. Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America.
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset-backed security, Bakken shale, banking crisis, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demand response, Donald Trump, Frederick Winslow Taylor, high net worth, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, illegal immigration, index fund, intermodal, inventory management, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, LNG terminal, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk tolerance, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, Wall-E, Yogi Berra, Zipcar
., who attended the University of Hawaii in the 1950s; the aristocratic Greek in my freshman dorm at Cornell who muttered darkly about the “bloody Turks” and “the bloody socialists.” That year, 1985, there were 343,777 foreign students at colleges and universities in the United States, about 2.8 percent of the total student body. Universities historically brought in international students for two reasons: graduate students to work as cheap teaching assistants, and rich undergrads as development prospects. Bring in the children of foreign plutocrats and aristocrats, the theory went, and they’ll become big contributors after they take their place in the family conglomerates. And the theory has worked. In 2008 Ranan Tata, the Indian industrialist, a 1962 graduate of Cornell University, donated $50 million to his alma mater, half of which went to fund scholarships for Indian students. But today the export of higher education promises more immediate paybacks to universities and to the economy at large.
How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--And What It Really Means by John Lanchester
asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, forward guidance, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, high net worth, High speed trading, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kodak vs Instagram, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, loss aversion, margin call, McJob, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Nikolai Kondratiev, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working poor, yield curve
From there, it is a short move towards the politics of economics, maybe beginning with Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism, a highly effective account of the arguments and evidence against neoliberal free-market orthodoxies. A number of very good recent books look at the effect of these policies in terms of their impact at the top end of the income distribution, and the consequences of that inequality for everyone else: Chrystia Freedland’s Plutocrats, Robert Frank’s Richistan, Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future?, and George Packer’s The Unwinding. Spring 2014 saw the publication of Thomas Piketty’s masterpiece Capital in the Twenty-First Century, an important, powerful, and densly argued study of the shift in the balance of power between capital and labor. There is a notable gap in the market here: there are attacks on the existing neoliberal order, but there doesn’t seem to be a powerful popular counternarrative.
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, blue-collar work, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, obamacare, occupational segregation, Occupy movement, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, strikebreaker, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, wage slave, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration
The little investor thus had no idea what was going on. “Our plutocracy, based on the trust’s position in industry and the trust magnate’s position within the trust, is composed, to a great extent, of strong, unscrupulous, far-seeing and ultra-individualistic persons, who secured hold of our national monopolized business while we as a nation were dreaming of competitive beatitudes,” Weyl chaffed.85 Weyl’s plutocrats sought to shrink government and argued that taxation was theft. “The plutocracy preaches individual liberty, the glorious fruits of free contract, the doctrine of the influence of good men, the survival of the fittest in business, an untrammeled individualism … It believes that while government is wise enough to put us in jail, it is not honest enough to be intrusted with our money or our business.”86 Moreover, the wealthy were able to dominate newspapers with their message, with only the upstart medium of the reformist magazine hammering against their party line.87 Weyl called for a revolution: harnessing government and the economy to allow for the freedom and development of all individuals.
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Brewster Kahle, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, digital Maoism, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, George Gilder, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Naomi Klein, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, oil rush, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, pre–internet, profit motive, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Works Progress Administration, young professional
Many of amateurism’s loudest advocates are also business apologists, claiming to promote cultural democracy while actually advising corporations on how to seize “collaboration and self-organization as powerful new levers to cut costs” in order to “discover the true dividends of collective capability and genius and usher their organizations into the twenty-first century.34 The grassroots rhetoric of networked amateurism has been harnessed to corporate strategy, continuing a nefarious tradition. Since the 1970s populist outrage has been yoked to free-market ideology by those who exploit cultural grievances to shore up their power and influence, directing public animus away from economic elites and toward cultural ones, away from plutocrats and toward professionals. But it doesn’t follow that criticizing “professionals” or “experts” or “cultural elites” means that we are striking a blow against the real powers; and when we uphold amateur creativity, we are not necessarily resolving the deeper problems of entrenched privilege or the irresistible imperative of profit. Where online platforms are concerned, our digital pastimes can sometimes promote positive social change and sometimes hasten the transfer of wealth to Silicon Valley billionaires.
Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller
affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income per capita, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market bubble, market clearing, mental accounting, Mikhail Gorbachev, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, working-age population, Y2K, Yom Kippur War
The public and the press do not like the idea of “bailing the banks out.” It offends their—and our—sense of fairness. The public also fears—surely rightly so—that highly compensated bankers will somehow appropriate the funds from the bailout to increase their own bonuses. The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson reflects such a political reaction when she describes how an “irreverent friend” thought TARP referred to “The Act Rewarding Plutocrats.”16 It may also be difficult to make injections of the necessary magnitude. The public may believe that injections of capital into the banks are necessary to make them solvent. But this fails to perceive the Humpty Dumpty problem. To relieve the credit crunch it is necessary to make the banks so super-solvent that they will replace those parts of the credit system that have failed. When it was announced that the Fed would inject $250 billion of capital into U.S. banks, the Financial Times ran a headline that suggested that even this amount was of the wrong order of magnitude to solve the credit crisis.
The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape by James Howard Kunstler
A Pattern Language, blue-collar work, California gold rush, car-free, City Beautiful movement, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, indoor plumbing, jitney, land tenure, means of production, megastructure, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shock, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Works Progress Administration
The naked brutality of industry was the most difficult thing to rec oncile with any new theory of the utopian future. No matter how you rationalized it, factory work was mind-numbing, if not back-breaking. And if the worker was a new kind of slave, then the industrial method of production itself was the new master, whether the system was run by an archduke with a monocle, or a cigar-chomping plutocrat, or a soviet committee. The avant-garde's solution to this dilemma was a bit of intellectual jujitsu, the old if you can't beat ' em, join ' em gambit : They romanticized the machine and embraced the growing mechanization of life as a wonderful development. Henceforward, all art would be machine-made, proclaimed the Dutchman Theo Van Doesburg. Not to be outdone, Walter Gropius declared "Art and Technology-a New Unity !
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index fund, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, NetJets, new economy, New Journalism, North Sea oil, paper trading, passive investing, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, shareholder value, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, zero-coupon bond
But to say that Buffett invested to dodge taxes was like saying that a baby drank its bottle to fill its diapers. Indeed, Buffett was the first to say that the tax on investments was unfairly low. In fact, this was another of his causes. He liked to compare his tax rate to his secretary’s, pointing out how unjust it was that she paid a higher tax rate on her income than he did, just because most of his income came from investing. Having already angered all the plutocrats and would-be plutocrats, but with his credibility at a peak in other quarters, Buffett vowed to carry on the fight against repeal of the estate tax, and would spin on this subject for years. He spoke again on another subject to the Democratic Policy Committee just days before the first shots were fired in the Iraq War in 2003. He said that President Bush’s plan to cut taxes on dividends was more “class welfare for the rich.”
He let himself be photographed lounging on the “Warren,” part of the “Berkshire Collection,” sold by the Omaha Bedding Co., as seen on posters of “Buffett and His Bed.” Now when he went down to the Nebraska Furniture Mart during the shareholder meeting weekend, he could lie on his own bed while selling his own mattresses. “I finally landed the only job I really wanted in life—a mattress tester,” he said.42 The Sage of Omaha, at whom plutocrats railed and tax-cutters shook their fists, before whom accountants quivered and stock-option abusers fled, whom autograph-seekers followed and television lights illuminated, was at heart nothing more than a starstruck little kid, endearingly clueless in many ways about his place in the pantheon. He got excited over and over by fan letters from Z-list celebrities. Every time somebody wrote him to say he was their hero, it was like the first time.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
There were two executives of industrial concerns, two engineers, a mathematician, a truck driver, a bricklayer, an electrician, a gardener and three factory workers. The impaneling of the jury had taken some time. Roark had challenged many talesmen. He had picked these twelve. The prosecutor had agreed, telling himself that this was what happened when an amateur undertook to handle his own defense; a lawyer would have chosen the gentlest types, those most likely to respond to an appeal for mercy; Roark had chosen the hardest faces. “... Had it been some plutocrat’s mansion, but a housing project, gentlemen of the jury, a housing project!” The judge sat erect on the tall bench. He had gray hair and the stern face of an army officer. “... a man trained to serve society, a builder who became a destroyer ...” The voice went on, practiced and confident. The faces filling the room listened with the response they granted to a good weekday dinner: satisfying and to be forgotten within an hour.
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, big-box store, blue-collar work, Donner party, edge city, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, side project, smart transportation, traveling salesman, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, urban renewal, Victor Gruen
Turner had been making decisions without citizen interference for four decades, had sought consensus only with fellow engineers and small groups of community leaders—who, in his view (and it was by no means unique to him), "knew best"—and, it seems, simply didn't want or didn't know how to respond to someone outside the fold. It was one thing to encourage inclusion in the abstract, another to actually practice it. Such treatment only fueled RAM's impression that its members had no hand in their fate. That summer, while busy denouncing "pavement plutocrats" and "concrete conquistadors," Wechsler decided the time was ripe to unite Baltimore's various anti-expressway forces under a single banner. At an all-day summit in early August, east-siders and west created a new umbrella organization incorporating some two dozen factions—RAM, neighborhood improvement groups, small anti-road cells, civil rights outfits, the League of Women Voters. They called it the Movement Against Destruction, or MAD.
Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, banking crisis, bonus culture, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, financial innovation, fixed income, glass ceiling, high net worth, Long Term Capital Management, mass affluent, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, six sigma, sovereign wealth fund, technology bubble, too big to fail, yield curve
The backbone of Merrill Lynch had always been its nationwide network of financial advisors—the 16,000 men and women spread across the U.S. who managed not only the investments of the wealthiest people in Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other large cities, but the slender portfolios of the hardworking citizens in second-tier towns like Cincinnati, Wichita, Lansing, Spokane. Most Wall Street banks and brokerage firms catered to huge institutional investors—pension funds with billions of dollars in assets—and plutocrats sitting atop massive fortunes. It was the genius of Charlie Merrill, the founder of Merrill Lynch, to look beyond the super-wealthy and build an investment advisory business at the grassroots level, by courting “the modest sums of the thrifty,” as he wrote early in his career. Starting in the 1940s, when most Americans still had searing memories of the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed, Merrill pursued his vision.
affirmative action, airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, data acquisition, death of newspapers, Extropian, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, informal economy, Iridium satellite, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, means of production, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, open economy, packet switching, pattern recognition, pirate software, placebo effect, Plutocrats, plutocrats, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telepresence, trade route, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yogi Berra, Zimmermann PGP
“Encryption is to the Information Revolution what the Atlantic Ocean was to the American Revolution,” commented one enthusiast. “It will render tax authorities as impotent in projecting their power as the ocean crossing did to King George.” Are some advocates of strong privacy selling out? Or are they really unaware that dangerous evil can fester and grow outside government? If they are unworried about drug kings and plutocrat tax cheats, what will they say when kidnappers begin using unbreakable codes to make untraceable demands, taking ransom payments in perfect, encrypted security? (See “The Problem of Extortion,” after chapter 7.) True, the greatest villains of the twentieth century, such as Hitler and Stalin, used state agencies as their chief tools for committing terror across the globe. But the vast majority of other human cultures were ruled by the arbitrary whims of conspiratorial cliques that scarcely resembled government as we know it.
The Big Book of Words You Should Know: Over 3,000 Words Every Person Should Be Able to Use (And a Few That You Probably Shouldn't) by David Olsen, Michelle Bevilacqua, Justin Cord Hayes
plebiscite (PLEB-uh-site), noun A vote, open to all voters, which decides matters of public policy. The annexation was voted down in a PLEBISCITE. plutocracy (ploo-TOK-ruh-see), noun Rule by the rich. Plutocracy can also refer to the overall influence of the wealthy in social affairs. “If PLUTOCRACY were likely to improve the nation’s standard of living,” Gerald said haughtily, “then I would be a plutocrat.” polemics (puh-LEM-ik), noun The art of argument. Someone who is strong in the field of polemics is gifted in making points by means of controversial discourse with others. The talk show host’s great asset was his skill in POLEMICS—not his personality. politick (POL-ih-tik), verb To talk about or engage in politics. Barry spends hours POLITICKING with his associates. polity (POL-ih-tee), noun A system of government.
banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business climate, cuban missile crisis, Ford paid five dollars a day, invention of the wheel, large denomination, margin call, Marshall McLuhan, Plutocrats, plutocrats, short selling, special drawing rights, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, very high income
By a recent count some eighty thousand persons, most of them lawyers, accountants, and former I.R.S. employees, held cards, granted by the Treasury Department, that officially entitle them to practice the trade of tax adviser and to appear as such before the I.R.S.; in addition, there is an uncounted host of unlicensed, and often unqualified, persons who prepare tax returns for a fee—a service that anyone may legally perform. As for lawyers, the undisputed plutocrats, if not the undisputed aristocrats, of the tax-advice industry, there is scarcely a lawyer in the country who is not concerned with taxes at one time or another during a year’s practice, and every year there are more lawyers who are concerned with nothing else. The American Bar Association’s taxation section, composed mostly of nothing-but-tax lawyers, has some nine thousand members; in the typical large New York law firm one out of five lawyers devotes all of his time to tax matters; and the New York University Law School’s tax department, an enormous brood hen for the hatching of tax lawyers, is larger than the whole of an average law school.
Hard Times: The Divisive Toll of the Economic Slump by Tom Clark, Anthony Heath
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, Carmen Reinhart, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Etonian, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, full employment, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, interest rate swap, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, unconventional monetary instruments, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor
The passage of a law which, for all its flaws and logistical problems in implementation, should eventually protect an extra 30 million Americans from the fear of being ruined by medical bills, was the one solid example of opportunism that does call Roosevelt to mind.24 As the immediate crisis eased, however, the old politics of Washington reasserted itself more aggressively – and so did the dismal thrust of policy pursued over the previous decades. To the extent that Obama could do anything more for the poor in the rest of his first term – and he did achieve some extension of the stimulus – he was forced by the Republicans to trade his efforts for an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the rich.25 Not only were these tax cuts the epitome of the very plutocratic politics that had shredded the social safety net in the first place, but they also compromised an important revenue stream that might otherwise have been used to repair it for the future. Worse was to come, after a faltering recovery picked up and attention turned from the stagnation of the economy as a whole to battered public finances. In 2013 – a point when long-term unemployment remained stubbornly high – a series of states moved to cut new holes in unemployment compensation.26 While official figures continued to show 4.3 million Americans jobless for more than 26 weeks, the emergency stimulus provision for more extended insurance than that began to come to an end.
Planet Ponzi by Mitch Feierstein
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disintermediation, diversification, Donald Trump, energy security, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, frictionless, frictionless market, high net worth, High speed trading, illegal immigration, income inequality, interest rate swap, invention of agriculture, Long Term Capital Management, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, pensions crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, value at risk, yield curve
Wall Streeters always had fancy jobs that paid more money than people earned elsewhere and which were imperfectly understood by those outside the financial world, but those disparities weren’t utterly out of line with other inequalities. Lawyers also had abstruse jobs with big pay packets. So did ad execs and heart surgeons. It’s only recently that the lawyers and the admen and the surgeons came to look like poor country cousins compared with the plutocrats of Wall Street. So change is necessary; and change is possible. The question we’re left with is: what change? We start with government. Change in government The first thing government needs—the main thing, the central issue—is honesty. The US government likes to draw attention to its ‘debt held by the public’ figure, which stands at around $10 trillion. And the figure is fine, as far as it goes—except that’s not very far.
Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government by Robert Higgs, Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.
Alistair Cooke, clean water, collective bargaining, credit crunch, declining real wages, endowment effect, fiat currency, full employment, hiring and firing, income per capita, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, manufacturing employment, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-industrial society, price discrimination, profit motive, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration
Collegiate socialism was in vogue at all the better colleges and universities and colored the thinking of many young radicals, including [Walter] Lippmann and [Randolph] Bourne. Socialism supplied the critique, if not the technique, for much Progressive reform; and though not always recognized, its effect was felt in all social sciences. 25 Such an intellectual atmosphere suffocated the defenders of the old order. Increasingly exposed and ridiculed as reactionary sycophants of capitalist exploiters and plutocrats, the proponents of the free market and limited government were almost everywhere in retreat. END AND BEGINNING: THE RAILROAD LABOR TROUBLES, 1916-1917 The government's response to the railroad labor troubles of 1916-191 7 may be seen both as the culmination of Progressivism and as a dress rehearsal for the garrison economy that would be created after the declaration of war. As The Progressive Era: A Bridge to Modern Times 117 Progressive activism, the government's actions simply carried a big step further the long-standing but increasingly extensive federal regulation of the railroad industry.
Lustrum by Robert Harris
I tried to struggle forward through the packed crowd, but the people in front of me had queued for hours for their places, and they refused to let me pass. In an agony I heard Clodius's counsel announce that they did not wish to challenge these witnesses, as their testimony was not relevant to the case, and the maids were ordered to leave the platform. I watched Agathe turn with the others and descend out of sight. Lucullus resumed giving evidence and I felt a great hatred well up in me at the sight of this decaying plutocrat who unthinkingly possessed a treasure for which, at that moment, I would have given my life. I was so preoccupied that I briefly lost track of what he was saying, and it was only when I realised that the crowd had started to gasp and laugh with delight that I took notice of his evidence. He was describing how he had concealed himself in his wife's bedchamber and observed her and her brother in the act of fornication: 'dog on bitch', as he put it.
Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet by David Moon, Patrick Ruffini, David Segal, Aaron Swartz, Lawrence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, Zoe Lofgren, Jamie Laurie, Ron Paul, Mike Masnick, Kim Dotcom, Tiffiniy Cheng, Alexis Ohanian, Nicole Powers, Josh Levy
4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Bernie Sanders, Burning Man, call centre, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, facts on the ground, Firefox, hive mind, immigration reform, informal economy, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, prisoner's dilemma, rent-seeking, Silicon Valley, Skype, technoutopianism, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator
Nearly complete disenfranchisement of the general populace has been achieved via social, political, economic and environmental means. We gather here in defense of our treasured rights. We know that these rights are natural and god given, and we will not allow them to be subject to the will and whim of a shadow government or kleptocratic cadre. We will defend them to our death rather than live under the yoke of plutocratic despotism. Yet, we still believe that reparation can be achieved through means political and civil. Though the string of trespasses which we protest is long, we wish to voice our grievances with the ruling regime in no uncertain terms. In the name of the American people, we beseech those who supposedly serve our interests to oppose the passage of HR.326 and S.968. Should these bills become law, our nation will transgress a line of moral sanity from beyond which it will be difficult to return.
Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks
A great showdown will occur when lives are extended significantly for the first time. My guess is that this won’t happen in the United States first. Russian oligarchs6 or Gulf sheiks might step up initially. If there’s a clock ticking to get a monetized information economy started, this is it. Will there be middle-class wealth and clout to balance the potential of masters of Siren Servers to become near-immortal plutocrats? This is the scenario H. G. Wells foresaw in The Time Machine. If the middle classes are strong when the time comes, some sort of compromise will be sorted out; some new social contract about how medicine is applied once the idea of a “natural” lifetime becomes as anachronistic as the idea of a “natural” climate. If the middle classes are weak, then chaos will unfold. People usually protest in a reasonably orderly fashion against austerity.
The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class by Kees Van der Pijl
anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, collective bargaining, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, deskilling, diversified portfolio, European colonialism, floating exchange rates, full employment, imperial preference, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, North Sea oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit maximization, RAND corporation, strikebreaker, trade liberalization, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty
The subordination of the reformist working class to the state thus amounted to a subordination of the independent working-class interest to capital, since the positive programme of the state remained closely attuned to the requirements of accumulation. Unlike most reformist labour leaders, Gramsci certainly was not blinded by this. Rejecting any democratic pretensions of the Fascist or corporatist state, he wrote that ‘the result of these phenomena is that in theory the State appears to have its socio-political base among the ordinary folk and the intellectuals, while in reality its structure remains plutocratic and it is impossible for it to break its links with big finance capital.’41 Therefore, we shall speak of a state-monopoly tendency to denote the class form of the hegemony of productive capital in its antinomy with money capital, in order to avoid the suggestion that capitalism actually has overcome its liberal basis: a full state monopoly would be equivalent to a planned economy of the Russian type.
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, complexity theory, computer age, credit crunch, currency peg, David Graeber, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, George Akerlof, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, jitney, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Lao Tzu, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market design, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, reserve currency, risk-adjusted returns, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, Stuxnet, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, working-age population, yield curve
When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany. New York: Public Affairs, 2010. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report: Final Report on the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States. New York: Public Affairs, 2011. Fleming, Ian. Goldfinger. New York: Avenel Books, 1988. Freeland, Chrystia. Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. New York: Penguin Press, 2012. Friedman, Milton. Studies in the Quantity Theory of Money. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967. Friedman, Milton, and Anna Jacobson Schwartz. A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1963. Gallarotti, Giulio M. The Anatomy of an International Monetary Regime: The Classical Gold Standard, 1880–1914.
Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, 9 dash line, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, capital controls, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Doha Development Round, edge city, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, ethereum blockchain, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial repression, forward guidance, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Hyperloop, ice-free Arctic, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Khyber Pass, Kibera, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, LNG terminal, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, mass affluent, megacity, Mercator projection, microcredit, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, openstreetmap, out of africa, Panamax, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, post-Panamax, private military company, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transaction costs, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day
Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country. HarperCollins, 2013. Frank, Malcolm, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring. Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations Are Changing the Rules of Business. Wiley, 2014. Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World. Bloomsbury, 2015. Freedman, Lawrence. Strategy: A History. Oxford University Press, 2013. Freeland, Chrystia. Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. Penguin Books, 2013. French, Howard W. China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa. Knopf, 2014. Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press, 2006. ———.
Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers by Stephen Graham
1960s counterculture, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Chelsea Manning, Commodity Super-Cycle, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, energy security, Frank Gehry, ghettoisation, Google Earth, high net worth, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Indoor air pollution, Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, means of production, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-industrial society, Project Plowshare, rent control, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Skype, South China Sea, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, trickle-down economics, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, WikiLeaks
The absent towers before them, interred in an ‘afterlife’ in the green ground below their feet, emerge as one ultimate symbol, perhaps, of the ways in which all vertical structures erected against the force of gravity must eventually be remade into manufactured ground.69 12. Basement/Cellar: Urban Undergrounds Wander the streets of central London and it can seem that everyone aspires to live like hobbits. – Charlie Ellingworth, ‘In a Hole? It’s Time to Stop Digging’ Like the clichéd arch-villains of a James Bond movie, the super-rich moguls, oligarchs, plutocrats and sheikhs who occasionally inhabit London’s Kensington and Chelsea now crave their own solipsistic subterranean lairs. Beneath the pristine stucco of the lines of Regency terraces burrows an unknowable labyrinth of deeply excavated super-luxury cocoons. In the years between 2008 and 2012, permission was granted for over 800 such subterranean excavations in Kensington and Chelsea – the epicentre of the elite burrowing phenomenon that is connected to the London’s remarkable ‘plutocratisation’.
Year 501 by Noam Chomsky
anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Bolshevik threat, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, colonial rule, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, declining real wages, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, European colonialism, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Howard Zinn, invisible hand, land reform, land tenure, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, War on Poverty, working poor
“It was with the help of...powerful politicians and crafty financiers who operated in the grand arenas of national and international government—as well as in the backrooms of Pittsburgh’s businesses and city hall—that Carnegie was able to construct his immense industrial fiefdom,” Krause writes: the world’s first billion-dollar corporation, US Steel. Meanwhile, the new imperial navy was “defending” the US off the coasts of Brazil and Chile and across the Pacific.17 The press gave overwhelming support to the Company, as usual. The British press presented a different picture. The London Times ridiculed “this Scotch-Yankee plutocrat meandering through Scotland in a four-in-hand opening public libraries, while the wretched workmen who supply him with ways and means for his self-glorification are starving in Pittsburgh.” The far-right British press ridiculed Carnegie’s preachings on “the rights and duties of wealth,” describing his self-congratulatory book Triumphant Democracy as “a wholesome piece of satire” in the light of his brutal methods of strike-breaking, which should be neither “permitted nor required in a civilized community,” the London Times added.
How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck
accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, income inequality, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, market bubble, means of production, moral hazard, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, open borders, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, post-industrial society, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck
Rather than restoring the protective limits to commodification that were rendered obsolete by globalization, ever new ways will be sought to exploit nature, extend and intensify working time, and encourage what the jargon calls creative finance, in a desperate effort to keep profits up and capital accumulation going. The scenario of ‘stagnation with a chance of bubbles’ may most plausibly be imagined as a battle of all against all, punctured by occasional panics and with the playing of endgames becoming a popular pastime. PLUTOCRATS AND PLUNDER Turning to the second disorder, there is no indication that the long-term trend towards greater economic inequality will be broken any time soon, or indeed ever. Inequality depresses growth, for Keynesian and other reasons. But the easy money currently provided by central banks to restore growth – easy for capital but not, of course, for labour – further adds to inequality, by blowing up the financial sector and inviting speculative rather than productive investment.
War Without Mercy: PACIFIC WAR by John Dower
anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, British Empire, colonial rule, European colonialism, ghettoisation, labour mobility, land reform, Monroe Doctrine, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Scientific racism, South China Sea, Torches of Freedom, transcontinental railway
All the “Western” values which Japanese ideologues and militarists had been condemning since the 1930s, after all, were attacked because they were said to sap the nation’s strength and collective will. More concretely, it was assumed that Great Britain would fall to the Germans, and the U.S. war effort would be undercut by any number of debilitating forces endemic to contemporary America: isolationist sentiment, labor agitation, racial strife, political factionalism, capitalistic or “plutocratic” profiteering, and so on. Such simplistic impressions of the “national character” of the projected enemy had disastrous consequences at the most practical levels. To give but one striking example, Japanese naval strategists assumed that Americans were too soft to endure the mental and physical strains of extended submarine duty, and thus never developed an effective antisubmarine capability–a failure of monumental significance given the decisive role submarines later played in the war of attrition against Japan.45 For a half year or more after Pearl Harbor, this impression of a soft enemy appeared to be true.
3D printing, Asian financial crisis, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business climate, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, colonial rule, Commodity Super-Cycle, corporate governance, crony capitalism, currency peg, dark matter, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Freestyle chess, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Malacca Straits, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, megacity, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, moral hazard, New Economic Geography, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, working-age population
This explosion has spawned a cottage industry of Forbes copycats, which produce a steady stream of titillating reports on the superrich. There’s the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and the Billionaire Census, while others track a specific range of the superwealthy, like the Hurun Report out of China and the Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse Research. Several of these sources including Forbes and Bloomberg now update their rankings in real time, using live market data. There are books spinning off the data, too, including Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland and Billionaires by Darrell M. West. The mushrooming of the billionaire-watchers reflects our conflicted times since they appeal both to voyeurs of the upper crust and to critics of wealth inequality. Some of this information caters to luxury goods marketers or to those keeping score for their own tribe: The University of Pennsylvania, it turns out, produces more billionaires than Yale, Harvard, Princeton, or any other school, and so on.
The Difference Engine by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
And you shall have the depths of the poisoned Thames for your sepulchre." "Kill us then, and stop your damned blather!" Fraser shouted suddenly, stung beyond endurance. "Special Branch will see you kicking at a rope's end if it takes a hundred years." "The voice of authority!" Swing taunted. "The almighty British Government! You're fine at mowing down poor wretches in the street, but let us see your bloated plutocrats take this warehouse, when we hold merchandise worth millions hostage here." "You must be completely mad," Mallory said. "Why do you suppose I chose this place as my headquarters? You are governed by shopkeepers, who value their precious goods more than any number of human lives! They will never fire on their own warehouses, their own shipping. We are impregnable here!" Mallory laughed. "You utter jolterhead!
algorithmic trading, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency peg, diversification, Doha Development Round, energy security, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, mobile money, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route
Meanwhile, the Fed jumped with both feet into a new role of lending to previously ineligible investment banks and setting up three new financial lending mechanisms at the New York Fed—most notably the Term Securities Lending Facility (to which the fearful could turn in weak securities for treasuries, as long as the second-rate paper had the pretense of a triple-A rating). On March 27, the Wall Street Journal ponderously described the period since March 18 as “Ten Days That Changed Capitalism”—or at least its American variety. Alas, many more such days would follow as the deleveraging of America continued to outpace the belated comprehension of plutocrats, professors, and pundits alike. Among the handful of journalistic exceptions, the most conspicuous was columnist Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times, herself at one time a stockbroker, who mocked the Fed’s “trash for cash” program by noting that “in early April, for instance, the Fed had to turn away many of the nation’s largest brokerage firms when they showed up, trash bags a-bulging. These firms hoped to unload securities valued at almost twice what the Fed was willing to lend.”
British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, distributed generation, Donner party, estate planning, Etonian, full employment, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, James Watt: steam engine, Khyber Pass, Menlo Park, Plutocrats, plutocrats, transcontinental railway, Works Progress Administration
In one golden instant, lower Manhattan came ablaze with a soft, uninterrupted light, all coming from vacuum bulbs that neither polluted nor glared nor gave headaches to those who read, dined, walked, or dozed beneath them. The promises of illumination made across the Hudson River in Menlo Park, New Jersey, had now been made good in New York City, and the success of the trial took hold with a speed that astonished even the city itself. Scores of plutocrats became early adopters; mansions lit up from Central Park to Chambers Street. The Stock Exchange installed electroliers, as they were known, massive chandeliers with sixty-six bulbs each, to throw light across the trading floor. Industry of all kinds suddenly sprouted in the city, with machines that sewed clothing, spun sugar, carved pianos, and printed books and newspapers, all of them suddenly illuminated in a way that no longer carried, as previously, the terrible risk of fire.
The Rough Guide to Amsterdam by Martin Dunford, Phil Lee, Karoline Thomas
The oddest items are the fake bedroom doors; the eighteenth-century owners were so keen to avoid any lack of symmetry that they camouflaged the real doors and created imitation, decorative replacements in the “correct” position instead. The other oddity is at the bottom of the garden, where the old coach house has trompe l’oeil windows; again, symmetry dictated that the building must have windows, but no self-respecting plutocrat wanted to be watched by his servants – hence the illusion. The Grachtengordel | Grachtengordel south | Thorbeckeplein, Rembrandtplein and Reguliersbreestraat Short and stumpy Thorbeckeplein hosts an assortment of unexciting bars and restaurants, flanking a statue of Rudolf Thorbecke (1798–1872), a far-sighted liberal politician and three-times Dutch premier whose reforms served to democratize the country in the aftermath of the European-wide turmoil of 1848.
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein
affirmative action, Alistair Cooke, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, delayed gratification, desegregation, East Village, European colonialism, full employment, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, immigration reform, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index card, indoor plumbing, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, Monroe Doctrine, New Urbanism, Own Your Own Home, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, the medium is the message, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, walking around money, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog
., driving to the Los Angeles market to select the day’s produce; from the time he was denied a chance to go to Harvard because he could only afford to live at home; from the time he was blacklisted from his little local college’s single social club because he was too unpolished; from the time he was reduced to sharing a one-room shack without heat or indoor plumbing while working his way through Duke Law School; from the time, finishing third in his class, he trudged frantically from white-shoe Wall Street law firm to white-shoe Wall Street law firm and was shown the door at each one (he ended up practicing law back home, where, forced to handle divorce cases, he would stare at his shoes, crimson-red in embarrassment, as women related to him the problems they suffered at the marital bed). To the time, back from the war, he begged Southern California’s penny-ante plutocrats, navy cap in hand, for their sufferance of his first congressional bid; to the time he trundled across California in his wood-paneled station wagon, bringing his Senate campaign into every godforsaken little burg in that state with so many scores of godforsaken little burgs. The town he was born in, Yorba Linda, was just that sort of godforsaken burg. Frank Nixon had built a little plaster-frame house there in 1910 across from a cruddy, oversize ditch that must have shaped one of the boy’s earliest indelible impressions of the world.
Reagan killed the rumor with a quip—“Even if they tied and gagged me, I would find a way to signal no by wiggling my ears”—and Dent died a little inside: he felt the slippage from Nixon minute by minute. But Nixon was about to fulfill a promise to Thurmond that would reverse his slippage. Nixon had agreed to face every Southern delegate, answer every question they asked—groveling like the callow navy vet in 1946 who wanted to run for Congress, begging South Californian petty plutocrats, navy hat in hand; begging Southern Republicans, again, for what he thought he had already won: their sufferance for him as their nominee. First he spoke to delegates from six states; then he spoke to a meeting of the other six. Only those present know what he said at the first one. At the second, the Miami Herald slipped in a tape recorder and published the transcript in that evening’s early edition of the next day’s paper.
New York by Edward Rutherfurd
Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, illegal immigration, margin call, millennium bug, out of africa, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rent control, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, the market place, urban renewal, Y2K, young professional
Patrick’s, and Trinity, Wall Street, and a handful of other church spires rose into the sky above the city. The great residential mansions were still only five stories high; indeed, the largest commercial structures, using cast-iron beams, were seldom more than ten. Moreover, even the most lavish of the newer palaces, whose opulent decorations might have seemed overdone, vulgar, in fact, to the Federal generation, even these plutocratic treasure houses still relied upon the basic motifs of the classical world, as did their cast-iron counterparts. There was tradition, and craftsmanship, and humanity in them, every one. The city might be vast, but it still retained its grace. And perhaps because she was getting older herself, this was important to her. She passed the reservoir at Forty-second Street. In the Thirties came the mansions of the Astors.
When it came to his daughter, he wasn’t sure he wanted to think about that. But for now, the girls just danced with each other, pretty much. What had it cost? Gorham wondered. At least a quarter-million dollars. He’d been to parties that cost more. Over the top, in his opinion. Nothing like the old guard, that was for sure. Or was it? As he gazed at the splendid scene, it suddenly struck Gorham that he was completely wrong. When the grand old New York plutocrats of the gilded age gave their magnificent parties, like the fellow who had about twenty gentlemen all dine on horseback, were they actually doing anything different? He knew a little history. What about the great parties of Edwardian England, or Versailles, or Elizabethan England, or medieval France, or the Roman Empire? They were all recorded in paintings and in literature. The identical story.
Real World Haskell by Bryan O'Sullivan, John Goerzen, Donald Stewart, Donald Bruce Stewart
bash_history, database schema, Debian, distributed revision control, domain-specific language, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, general-purpose programming language, job automation, p-value, Plutocrats, plutocrats, revision control, sorting algorithm, transfer pricing, type inference, web application, Y Combinator
Maybe at Work, and Good API Design Here’s an example of Maybe in use as a monad. Given a customer’s name, we want to find the billing address of her mobile phone carrier: -- file: ch14/Carrier.hs import qualified Data.Map as M type PersonName = String type PhoneNumber = String type BillingAddress = String data MobileCarrier = Honest_Bobs_Phone_Network | Morrisas_Marvelous_Mobiles | Petes_Plutocratic_Phones deriving (Eq, Ord) findCarrierBillingAddress :: PersonName -> M.Map PersonName PhoneNumber -> M.Map PhoneNumber MobileCarrier -> M.Map MobileCarrier BillingAddress -> Maybe BillingAddress Our first version is the dreaded ladder of code marching off the right of the screen, with many boilerplate case expressions: -- file: ch14/Carrier.hs variation1 person phoneMap carrierMap addressMap = case M.lookup person phoneMap of Nothing -> Nothing Just number -> case M.lookup number carrierMap of Nothing -> Nothing Just carrier -> M.lookup carrier addressMap The Data.Map module’s lookup function has a monadic return type: ghci> :module +Data.Map ghci> :type Data.Map.lookup Data.Map.lookup :: (Ord k, Monad m) => k -> Map k a -> m a In other words, if the given key is present in the map, lookup injects it into the monad using return.
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, central bank independence, centre right, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Etonian, full employment, German hyperinflation, index card, invisible hand, Lao Tzu, large denomination, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mobile money, moral hazard, new economy, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, rolodex, the market place
In early 1926, the government, its finances now restored but its currency still inexorably and inexplicably falling, tried to persuade the Banque that now was the time to redeem its pledge by supporting the franc with foreign currencies borrowed against the security of the gold. The Banque refused. Its behavior during the whole crisis—its reluctance to help and its lack of cooperation with the government—would later give rise to the accusation that the plutocrats at the apex of the French banking system had been determined from the very start to bring the left-wing coalition to its knees. Le mur d’argent—the wall of money—it was called, joining les deux cents familles as the twin rallying cries of the left in France. In May 1926, the government, spurned by its own central bank, sought frantically to obtain credit abroad. But the scandal of les faux bilans had confirmed the universal prejudice among British and American bankers that French institutions—government, politicians, press, and now even the central bank—were decadent, corrupt, and dysfunctional.
City: Urbanism and Its End by Douglas W. Rae
agricultural Revolution, barriers to entry, business climate, City Beautiful movement, complexity theory, desegregation, edge city, ghettoisation, income per capita, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, manufacturing employment, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Saturday Night Live, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white flight, Works Progress Administration
The Ullman brothers—Isaac and Louis—were German Jews who worked for the corset-maker Strouse-Adler and ran the local Republican Party. Names like McCarthy, Sullivan, Callihan, Kelly, and McHugh suggested anything but an Italian heritage. Names like Kannegiesser, Moegling, Goetz, and Konold confirmed an impression of democracy across nationality lines. Only the old-line Yankees are missing. Neither was this a snobbish or plutocratic occasion. Frank Lorenzi was a bartender. Frank Strong was a carpenter. Ed Bean ran a garage. Charlie McFeeters was a carpenter and builder. Mark Ryder sold insurance. Tommy Sullivan and George White managed hotels. Mario Petrucelli was a clerk. And it was not in any conventional sense a socially exclusive evening: not a single family belonging to the all-WASP New Haven Lawn Club appears to have made the guest list— not the Sargents, not the Whitneys, not the Dana clan, not the English family, not the DeForests, not the Farnams, the Hotchkiss tribe, not the Watrouses or the Welches.10 Some of these families might have seen fit to join the Polis for their anniversary if asked; some were perhaps unwilling to rub shoulders with these relative newcomers.
Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century by Christian Caryl
anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, colonial rule, Deng Xiaoping, financial deregulation, financial independence, friendly fire, full employment, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet Archive, land reform, land tenure, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, open borders, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, single-payer health, special economic zone, The Chicago School, union organizing, upwardly mobile, Winter of Discontent, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, Yom Kippur War
It did not bode well for the future of the revolution. The Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line were political amateurs. They acted according to an inchoate mixture of anti-imperialist sentiment and woolly conspiracy theories. The hostages who attempted to question their captors about their motivations usually found it a frustrating experience. The young revolutionaries believed not only that the United States was controlled by Jewish plutocrats who were conducting warfare on Muslims around the world, but also that the Americans were responsible for natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, all of them conjured up by diabolical scientists. One of the hostages was told by a captor that Iran and America had been enemies for four hundred years. When the American responded that the United States had existed for only two hundred years, the Iranian breezily dismissed him: Khomeini had said it, and therefore it was true.7 The Carter White House never quite managed to understand what its opponents were about, either.
Albert Einstein, British Empire, business intelligence, centralized clearinghouse, City Beautiful movement, estate planning, glass ceiling, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, indoor plumbing, Livingstone, I presume, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, refrigerator car, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, young professional
“interfere with the strictest”: Fred Harvey to Ford Harvey, July 5, 1895, LCHSC. “The amount you gave him”: Ibid. “Wet clothes”: Quote from “Recalls Incident on Fred Harvey Ranch,” Emporia Gazette, Feb. 1, 1946; other information on farm is from Emporia Gazette, April 5, 1946. “fewer white shirts and brains”: “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Emporia Gazette, April 15, 1896. “The more one sees”: “In the Land of the Plutocrat,” Emporia Gazette, July 6, 1897. “no smirking, tip-seeking negro”: El Paso Herald, reprinted later in SFMag, Sept. 1910, p. 76. “We’ll guarantee you”: Poling-Kempes, Harvey Girls, p. 100. When a new girl cleared: “‘Harvey Girls’ Long a Part of Kansas City Scene,” KCStar, Feb. 17, 1946, p. 1-C. “caused a lot of jealousy”: Poling-Kempes, Harvey Girls, p. 101. “nearly every single”: Ibid., p. 126.
The Making of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr
anti-communist, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business climate, Corn Laws, Etonian, garden city movement, illegal immigration, imperial preference, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Red Clydeside, rent control, strikebreaker, trade liberalization, V2 rocket, wage slave, women in the workforce
In 1886 Joe broke with Gladstone and most Liberals over home rule for Ireland, setting up his rival Liberal Unionist organization. Going into alliance with the Tory leader Lord Salisbury (whom he had once denounced as a useless excrescence), he became a leading statesman in the days of the rush for African colonies, the confrontations with China and the growing rivalry with Germany. Joe’s populism left behind the beliefs of many traditional Liberals while distancing him from the plutocrats and aristocrats of old Tory England. He was routinely called a turncoat, which he was, and seemed to enjoy the blood-sport side of politics just a little too much, revelling in one famous Irish Commons debate when the arguments degenerated into fist fights, leaving torn clothing and broken teeth on the floor. His relish for the Boer War led to it being called ‘Joe’s War’, and his conduct of the 1900 ‘khaki election’, attacking Liberal opponents as traitors and whipping up a frenzy of imperial self-righteousness, led to that being called ‘Joe’s election’.
The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989 by Frederick Taylor
anti-communist, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, German hyperinflation, land reform, mutually assured destruction, oil shock, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Sinatra Doctrine, the market place, young professional, éminence grise
WAG THE DOG / 115 This view was shared by Ulbricht’s ultimate master, the mercurial Nikita Khrushchev, who by all accounts saw Kennedy as potentially weak, a rich man’s son whose daddy’s money had bought him a high position which might prove beyond his powers. And the new American President, at forty-three, still lacked experience at the highest level—he was, as Khrushchev pointed out, ‘younger than my own son’.7 But would this enable the shrewd, aggressive Soviet leader to bully Kennedy into making significant concessions? Or might it mean, on the contrary, that the younger leader, with his plutocratic background, would prove an obedient tool of the Wall Street capitalists, who were sworn to destroy the USSR at any price? Khrushchev wobbled between these two possible scenarios, even confiding to US Ambassador Thompson before the elections that he wished Nixon would win ‘because I’d know how to cope with him. Kennedy is an unknown quantity.’ Scarcely had Kennedy settled into the White House than the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April 1961—a disastrous, American-supported attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba—ensured that hopes of a bright new morning were dashed.
affirmative action, British Empire, David Brooks, death of newspapers, deindustrialization, family office, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, jitney, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ray Oldenburg, ride hailing / ride sharing, Scientific racism, Steven Levy, The Great Good Place, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, urban planning, We are the 99%, white flight
Its members worried that becoming too big and impersonal would undermine its standing as an “association of gentlemen.” Their emphasis on status and exclusivity also meant excluding nouveaux riches who had made fortunes in the booming Gilded Age economy. Having come out of nowhere, without family antecedents, close relationships with others in the upper class, or social graces, the income men had only their wealth. An etiquette manual said scornfully of “our newer millionaires and plutocrats” that “it is undeniable that many of these captains of industry—however strong and virile their natures—become utterly helpless and panic-stricken at the mere sight of a gold finger bowl, an alabaster bath, a pronged oyster fork, or the business end of an asparagus.”1 But the Union Club had to abruptly change its policy in 1891, when J. Pierpont Morgan and some others became disgusted by the blackballing of several of their acquaintances and decided to form their own club.
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
back-to-the-land, British Empire, California gold rush, colonial rule, Copley Medal, desegregation, Donald Trump, feminist movement, full employment, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, land tenure, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration
The Southern white masses are not biologically degenerate.”64 Daniels was unwavering in his belief that Jeffersonian democracy had long since died, only to be replaced by demagogues on the order of Huey Long, who, following on the heels of generations of southern patricians, plundered the people at will. He took up Odum’s cautionary advice, insisting that all planning for southern revival had to start at the bottom if it was to effect anything approaching real change. “Maybe still one Reb can beat ten Yankees,” wrote Daniels. But “it is irrelevant.” Rebel pride had blinded all classes. “The tyrants and the plutocrats and the poor all need teaching. One of them no more than the others.” Odum, Agee, and Daniels all wanted to see the South rescued from its ideological trap. They were not cynical; they were hopeful. They recognized that simple solutions—a smattering of prettified homesteads—were no cure. Something grander, on the scale of the TVA, represented the only chance to shake up the existing consensus and rearrange class structure.65 In the 1930s, the forgotten man and woman became a powerful symbol of economic struggle all across America.
Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
affirmative action, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, asset allocation, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, John von Neumann, linear programming, market clearing, New Journalism, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, RAND corporation, Simon Kuznets, the scientific method
Take a look at this – in confidence, of course,’ and he reached under the table to his briefcase and rummaged out a few pages of typescript. ‘The Universal Abundance of Products’, read Galich. He took out a pair of reading glasses he preferred not to put on in public, and leafed forward through the papers. ‘Food’, he read, ‘should be tasty, varied and healthy, and have nothing in common with the primitive gluttony of curs or the perverted gourmandism of plutocrats … Each member of society’, he read, ‘will obtain a sufficient amount of comfortable, practical and handsome clothing, undergarments, footwear, etc., but this in no way presupposes superfluousness or extravagance.’ He began to laugh quietly, and went on laughing as the author explained how, in 1980, everyone’s need for ‘cultural goods’ would be fully satisfied, but it would be sufficient to be able to borrow a musical instrument ‘from the public store room’.
Heaven's Command (Pax Britannica) by Jan Morris
British Empire, Cape to Cairo, centralized clearinghouse, Corn Laws, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scramble for Africa, trade route
Ahmed Arabi, The Egyptian1 1 Of which my favourite is ‘Beetle-fuck’, the East Indiamen’s nickname for the Arabian coffee town of Bait-al-Fakih. Other agreeable examples are ‘Sam Collinson’, which is what the soldiers called the Chinese general San-ko-linsin in the China war of 1860—a predecessor of the well-known Soviet general Tim O’Shenko—and ‘Mr Radish and Mr Gooseberry’, the Hudson’s Bay Company’s eponyms for the French explorers Radisson and Groseilliers. When a Bombay plutocrat named Radah Moonee erected a public drinking fountain in Regent’s Park, London, the grateful British public neatly christened him Mr Ready Money. 2 But the Chinese in particular sometimes answered in kind. ‘The dispatch written on this occasion,’ declared the Chinese authorities in answer to a British ultimatum in 1860, ‘is in most of its language too insubordinate and extravagent for the Council to discuss its propositions more than superficially.
Executive Orders by Tom Clancy
affirmative action, Ayatollah Khomeini, card file, defense in depth, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, experimental subject, financial independence, friendly fire, Monroe Doctrine, out of africa, Own Your Own Home, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rolodex, South China Sea, trade route
No White House with Arnie van Damm in it would ever be disorganized, and the whole Washington establishment knew it. Ryan's major Cabinet appointments had shaken things up, but then the officials had all started doing the right things. Adler was another insider who'd worked his way to the top; as a junior official he'd briefed in too many foreign-affairs correspondents over the years for them to turn on him-and he never lost a chance to extol Ryan's expertise on foreign policy. George Winston, outsider and plutocrat though he was, had initiated a quiet reexamination of his entire department, and Winston had on his Rolodex the number of every financial editor from Berlin to Tokyo, and was seeking out their views and counsel on his internal study. Most surprising of all was Tony Bretano in the Pentagon. A vociferous outsider for the last ten years, he'd promised the defense-reporting community that he'd clean out the temple or die in the attempt, that the Pentagon was wasteful now as they'd always proclaimed, but that he, with the President's approval, was going to do his damnedest to de-corrupt the acquisition process once and for all.
The American people probably deserve somebody better than me to stand up and do what's right but I'm all there is, and I can't-I can't break faith with the people who sent me to this town, no matter what it costs. Ryan is not the President of the United States. He knows that. Why else is he trying to change so many things so fast? Why is he trying to bully the senior people at State into lying? Why is he playing with abortion rights? Why is he playing with the tax code through this plutocrat Winston? He's trying to buy it. He's going to continue to bully Congress until the fat cats try to have him elected king or something. I mean, who represents the people right now? I just don't see him that way, Ed, the Globe responded, after a few seconds. His politics are pretty far to the right, but he comes across as sincere as hell. What's the first rule of politics? the Times asked with a chuckle.
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
The blank look of one who is taking another for granted. Weissmann was as sure of Pökler's role as Polder was of Leni's. But Leni left at last. Pokier might not have had the will. He thought of himself as a practical man. At the rocket field they talked continents, encirclements—seeing years before the General Staff the need for a weapon to break ententes, to leap like a chess knight over Panzers, infantry, even the Luftwaffe. Plutocratic nations to the west, communists to the east. Spaces, models, game-strategies. Not much passion or ideology. Practical men. While the military wallowed in victories not yet won, the rocket engineers had to think non-fanatically, about German reverses, German defeat—the attrition of the Luftwaffe and its decline in power, the withdrawals of fronts, the need for weapons with longer ranges. . . .
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Sanders, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, death of newspapers, desegregation, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, friendly fire, full employment, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, land reform, Mercator projection, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, very high income, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration
If they attempt to murder Moyer, Haywood and their brothers, a million revolutionists, at least, will meet them with guns. . . . Capitalist courts never have done, and never will do, anything for the working class. . . . A special revolutionary convention of the proletariat . . . would be in order, and, if extreme measures are required, a general strike could be ordered and industry paralyzed as a preliminary to a general uprising. If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. Theodore Roosevelt, after reading this, sent a copy to his Attorney General, W. H. Moody, with a note: “Is it possible to proceed against Debs and the proprietor of this paper criminally?” As the Socialists became more successful at the polls (Debs got 900,000 votes in 1912, double what he had in 1908), and more concerned with increasing that appeal, they became more critical of IWW tactics of “sabotage” and “violence,” and in 1913 removed Bill Haywood from the Socialist Party Executive Committee, claiming he advocated violence (although some of Debs’s writings were far more inflammatory).
The Wars of Afghanistan by Peter Tomsen
airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, facts on the ground, failed state, friendly fire, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, Internet Archive, Khyber Pass, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Plutocrats, plutocrats, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce
The Soviet Union’s ideology focused on the horizontally layered class makeup of European countries and China, which Karl Marx and many noncommunist writers had analyzed. Class conflict between small wealthy elites at the top and poverty-stricken masses below had driven the French Revolution. In Russia, the Bolsheviks—and later Stalin—had exploited class-warfare stratagems to mobilize large numbers of have-nots against haves, poor urban workers against plutocrats, and peasants against Kulaks. In China, Mao Tsetung had mobilized the rural poor against the wealthy in both city and the countryside. But base broadening along class lines did not fit the vertical patterns in Afghanistan’s tribal society. Afghanistan’s tribal population is not divided horizontally; instead, loyalties move upward and downward within thousands of tribal and ethnic clusters. Brezhnev missed this point when he triumphantly announced, in December 1978, that Soviet-Afghan relations were “now based on class belonging.”35 The great majority of the approximately 15,00036 PDPA members at the time of the communist coup had little grasp of Marxism-Leninism or the history of the world communist movement.
A History of Zionism by Walter Laqueur
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, illegal immigration, joint-stock company, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, strikebreaker, the market place, éminence grise
A return to the Middle Ages seemed inconceivable to many Jews, but Lilienblum was less optimistic. The Jewish question could be solved only if the Jews were transferred to a country where they constituted the majority, where they would no longer be strangers but able to lead a normal life. Such a possibility did not exist in Spain‡ nor in Latin America nor even in the United States, but only in Palestine. It was pointless to wait for an initiative on the part of the Jewish plutocrats; the impetus could come only from the ranks of the people.* The question whether to emigrate and where to turn agitated Russian Jewry for many years. Smolenskin became a Zionist after the riots of 1881 and in his writings listed the advantages of Palestine over the countries of North and South America. He noted that only a few years earlier the very word Eretz Israel had been derided by almost all Jews except those who wished to be buried there.
air freight, Albert Einstein, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, desegregation, double entry bookkeeping, family office, feminist movement, full employment, ghettoisation, Indoor air pollution, medical malpractice, Mikhail Gorbachev, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, trade route, transaction costs, traveling salesman, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty
VI THEODORE ROOSEVELT was a patrician, a puritan without being a prude, and an ardent patriot with a stern sense of duty. He had an instinctive hatred of unfair, undercover, and otherwise unscrupulous dealings. Here was an honorable man who devoted most of his life to unselfish public service. None of this could have been—or was—said of his fellow New York Republican James B. Duke, no admirer of the twenty-sixth President. In truth, Duke was among those party plutocrats who worked to deny Roosevelt the Republican renomination to his high office in 1904, the year that may be said to have launched his reputation as The Trustbuster. Teddy Roosevelt’s beliefs about the evils of economic combination were far more nuanced, though, than history’s facile labeling would suggest. Indeed, his antitrust philosophy was something of a rationalized muddle, mirrored in the Supreme Court’s inconstant readings of the 1890 Sherman Act outlawing “unreasonable restraints” of trade or commerce.
Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall
agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, David Graeber, feminist movement, garden city movement, hive mind, Howard Zinn, invisible hand, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, land tenure, Lao Tzu, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, Naomi Klein, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, the market place, union organizing, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery
But where Warren looked to ‘equitable’ individuals to work out the cost, Tucker relied on their self-interested conduct in a free market (that is, one which has abolished money, tariffs and patents). He also believed that absolute equality is not desirable: people should enjoy the results of their superiority of muscle or brain. But while retaining private property and admiring certain aspects of laissez-faire capitalism, he was critical of the ‘system of violence, robbery, and fraud that the plutocrats call “law and order”’.28 Although Emma Goldman complained that his attitude to the communist anarchists was ‘charged with insulting rancor’, he remained a left- rather than a right-wing libertarian.29 Like Godwin, Tucker looked to the gradual spread of enlightenment to bring about change. He made a plea for non-resistance to become a universal rule. But he distinguished between domination and defence, and accepted that resistance to encroachment from others is acceptable.