This topic is deeply personal to me because it shines a quantitative light on the current state of America’s social contract.
I am a Gen-X ethical tech founder and Rust Belt alum. Poverty was always lurking around the corner from my house growing up. My family members lived in a 75-year old schoolhouse with a wood burning stove for heat and did not have an indoor bathroom (they used an outhouse until the early 1990s). Like my grandparents, they were too ashamed and proud to seek public assistance. Absent my mother’s courageous and tireless work, I would not be sitting where I am today writing this post for my new community of relentless world changers.
As I type this, in the United States:
- 155K have died from a containable disease (majority low-income and people of color)
- 4.5M have tested positive for COVID-19
- Approximately 40% of families cannot afford to pay their rent this month
- Educators now face a dual threat (active shooter drills + containing a deadly disease)
- Mental health, especially in children, is fragile at best
- Economy nosedived by a record 33%
- Wall Street celebrated massive gains from Facebook, Amazon, and Apple
In other words: America’s Toxic Twins (White Supremacy and Ruthless Socialism for the Wealthy) are in a predictable, exceptional downward spiral.
This assignment caused a bit of apprehension.
I do not want to be perceived negatively for my views about our 2nd Gilded Age.
We have not met formally. While I’m fairly confident that we share many views, I do not want to offend anyone. What I am comfortable sharing with you at the onset of our workshop journey is this:
Our current version of capitalism is not worth saving. This book supports that argument.
Gabriel Zucman is a U.C. Berkeley public policy and economics professor with clarifying insights. He shares jaw-dropping and often infuriating data ($200 billion in state revenues lost through private individuals’ use of tax havens, plus another $130 billion in losses created by U.S. firms booking their profits offshore). Dr. Zucman proposes three (3) achievable solutions that rely only on political will (insert sprinkle of cynicism). His celebrated work from 2015 gave me fuel to find the courage to build my multi-stakeholder tech cooperative. Perhaps it does the same for you.
Good News: You and I can solve this problem at scale. Timing is in our favor. Let’s work with relentless energy to swing the equity pendulum back to its just position.
Bad News: The forces that worked tirelessly for 50+ years to achieve our current state have monopoly advantages, including for profit media and information spaces (see Facebook and Google).
In summary, people like us – equity creators, humanists, and futurists – will eliminate this hidden wealth of nations and help generations who follow us thrive.
FYI do not consume this book unless you are eager for density! Others are worthy of consideration:
- Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
- The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn
- Anything by the amazing Toni Morrison to soothe your soul 🙂