Exploration of the increase in global economic inequality.
You don’t need a CPA to know which way the wind blows. Unless you’re one of the rich or superrich, the 1 percent or the 1 percent of the 1 percent, then you won’t be comforted to know that it blows against you: The rich are getting richer, and the rest of us…well, not so much. Thus the overarching theme of Thomson Reuters digital editor Freeland’s (Sale of the Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution, 2000) latest book, much of which, at least superficially, isn’t really news. Dig deeper, though, and the author offers fresh takes on many key points. Are the rich happy? You’d think that all that money would take some of the burden off, but income inequality is an uncomfortable subject even for them. “That’s because even—or perhaps particularly—in the view of its most ardent supporters,” she writes, “global capitalism wasn’t supposed to work quite this way.” Level playing field? No way: The playing field is landscaped so that money rolls toward those who already have it. Equal opportunity? See the preceding point. Yet, Freeland continues, the switcheroo that robbed the middle class of its gains in the transition to “the America of the 1 Percent” is so new that our ways of talking and thinking about capitalism haven’t caught up to reality, so that “when it comes to income inequality, Americans think they live in Sweden—or in the late 1950s.” Smart, talking-point-friendly and full of magazine-style human-interest anecdotes, Freeland’s account serves up other news, including the grim thought that recovery may never come for those outside the favored zone, as well as some provocative insights on how the superaffluent (don’t say rich, say affluent—it avoids making the rich feel uncomfortable) view the rest of us.
Not exactly the Communist Manifesto, but Freeland’s book ought to make news of its own as she makes the rounds—well worth reading.