Posted by Bob Lord
I think this may be the first time I took a vacation from a political campaign, but I may make it a regular practice.
My best read over the vacation was Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich, by Christia Freeland, which I think was just released a few weeks ago. In a sense, the book serves as a prequel to Twilight of the Elites…, by Chris Hayes, as Hayes' analysis more or less picks up where Freeland's leaves off.
If for no other reason, Plutocrats is a great read simply for the information it contains. The points she makes, however, are thought provoking as well. This is admittedly a crude summary, but Freeland's central thesis is that we are living through a new gilded age fueled primarily by two factrors: globlization, including the explosive growth in the developing world, and a technology revolution. In this gilded age, however, the plutocrats are bound more closely to one another than they are to any one country. They have multiple homes, spend half their time traveling, and have more in common with their fellow plutocrats than their fellow countrymen. Her characterization of the plutocrats largely is charitable, but, in the end, she raises the question whether ultimately the plutocrats, after having climbed the ladder of success, will act to pull the ladder up so others cannot join them. She leaves this as a pair of open questions: whether the plutocrats will go down this path, and whether society will act to stop them. Her analysis suggests eihter path is plausible. In his book, Hayes makes the case that we're already 90% of the way down the wrong path.
Here's why it's an important read: Inequality is the paramount challenge we face. It's killing us economically, socially, and politically. It's inflicting misery on millions of Americans and destroying the dreams of our youth. If we are to meet the challenge, we need to understand inequality from all sides, and Freeland does a masterful job of looking at inequality from every angle. I highly recommend it.