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288 pages, Hardcover
First published August 28, 2018
Even as I savored these luxuries and connections, I found something amiss about the Aspen institute. Here were all these rich and powerful people coming together and speaking about giving back, and yet the people who seemed to reap most of the benefits of this coming together were the helpers, not the helped. I began to wonder what was actually going on when the most fortunate don’t merely seek to make a difference but also effectively claim ownership of “changing the world.” . . .Giridharadas continued to think about these matters, and five years later, at his Aspen Institute summer reunion, he delivered a speech in which he summed up what he called the Aspen Consensus: “The winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.”
I began to feel like a casual participant in . . . a giant, sweet-lipped lie. . . . Why were we coming to Aspen? To change the system, or to be changed by it? To speak truth to power, . . . or to help make an unjust, unpalatable system go down a little more easily? Could the intractable problems we proposed to solve be solved in the way that we silently insisted—at minimal most to elites, with minimal distribution of power?
Fact: those in the top 1/10 of one percent pay 24% of all federal taxes, those making over 130k pay 85% of all taxes. I guess it depends on what enough means.
‘Income inequality is bad, real bad’
This argument must stem from people’s innumeracy. If one person makes an extra ten percent his million dollar salary and another man makes the same ten percent more on his 50k salary, inequality has increased, but so what?
The 50k man is not poorer just bc someone else gained more actual money. The million dollar salary didn’t take money that rightfully should have gone to the other man.
‘Workers are far more productive than 50 years ago but they haven’t seen much wage gain’
That’s bc the worker isn’t responsible for his increase in productivity. The investments of others have increased his productivity.
Example: 50 years ago a guy working at Hertz had a tough job, tons of records kept, meticulous data entry, understanding of some legalities, and reasonable customer service. With all that let’s say he could service/intake10 vehicles an hour.
Today, a much less skilled fellow need only pass his iPad over the car’s barcode and all the relevant info is immediately downloaded and saved, No record keeping, no data entry, no skill set. And yet this guy can service 100 cars an hour. That’s a massive increase in productivity, but in no way is it bc the worker has gotten better, faster, or smarter.