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Winners take all: the elite charade of changing the world

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by Anand Giridharadas, pps. 263, (pub. A.A. Knopf,2018)

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What I learned from this book

The author lays some eye-opening stats on us in the Prologue. It does as much to shed light on the financial anxiety most Americans are and have been feeling for quite some time – that contribute to much of the division and fear mongering that has become an American staple for others to ‘swoop in on’ and take full advantage of.

Giridharadas references a study that discovered:

“…middle and lower class Americans (born from 1984 on) now have merely a 35% chance of achieving a comparable lifestyle to their parents (down drastically from previous generations).  He goes on to mention that the top tenth of earners income has doubled since 1980, the top 1% has tripled – and, if you’re in the top .001%, you earned 7x.”  (paraphrased from Prologue, pg. 4) 

The author tells us it is time to examine how income disparity numbers like this arose, and to take an honest look at how the crushing impact it has on the majority of us. 

The author also suggests that the general population would be foolish to (think and hope) that it can sit back and allow the super wealthy and super influential to save us all from this situation.  The reasons, as so carefully laid out in this book, are that many of the same individuals (and companies) who orchestrate, participate, fund, and preside on speaker panels are, in fact, the ones responsible for creating many of the global issues they claim to be solving.

This book is a very eye-opening exposé on what the author terms to be “a charade” that the rich and famous carefully play on the rest of us.  It shows repeated demonstrations as to how and why some very important social problems are to be addressed (as outlined by the super-rich), but fail to ever be resolved. The author informs us that this all appears to be more by design than by circumstance.  It is a harrowing thought– but one he insists is real and that we need to examine.

 What I liked about this book

Having watched Mr. Giridharadas appear on numerous television round tables, I’ve found his overall outlook and knowledge of the world catches my attention.  So, in the interest of full disclosure, I went into this book already knowing I would enjoy his style and delivery. It is one of the main reasons why I was even interested in the book in the first place. Nevertheless, what surprised me most was how he used cases of specific grievances from real-world individuals who run in the same circles of people who play this charade.  He even ‘razzed’ himself for being part of the process (as a well-compensated public speaker); putting him in a willing role within the charade itself in some ways.  He was very forthright in how easy it is to become an unwitting participant in the process due to the willingness to make a living directly from the proceeds (of the charade).

What I disliked about this book

I couldn’t find anything to dislike about this book. In fact, I will bookmark this author in my archives and make sure to flag any future works he brings forward to the reading public.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I would recommend this book to anyone, anywhere who is curious or “feels frustrated with the system.” These are the real issues we’re dealing with and that must be addressed honestly in order to heal the problems they cause in society.  This applies not only in America, but also to many other countries around the globe.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

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**NOW PLAYING: The President is Missing – James Patterson & Bill Clinton

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by Bill Clinton & James Patterson, pub. 2018, pp. 513

presidentismissingbook.com

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What I learned from this book

I learned that there are still some horrifying events that can and may occur in our country at any moment in time.  We tend to consume ourselves with ourselves (selfies, smartphones, reality television, etc.).  What we may not do enough of is pay attention to some of the things that threaten to take all of the fun away from us – permanently. One example of this type of catastrophe (spoiler alert #1) is the one examined in the book – the purposeful contamination of a virus meant to cause a complete and total shutdown of all of the things we take for granted but need each day: clean running water supply, electricity from the grid, internet access – as well as too many other conveniences to mention.

In other words, we may find value in gluing ourselves to every personal experience, but none of it will mean anything without continued access to the things we actually need in order to exist each day. This novel could be looked at as a wake-up call for many of us in America.

Most of us think we’re wide awake, but, in fact, we are mostly “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to the prospects of a true, wide-scale crisis.  I suppose it remains to be seen how serious we can ever get about this or any other type of wake-up call.

What I liked about this book

I thought the mention of this book being “fiction” was the most interesting.  I suppose this is so because so much of what the book is about either has, can, is, or may occur in our actual “non-fiction” America.  I imagine this is the beauty of collaboration between arguably one of our best fiction writers and arguably one of our actual former sitting U.S. presidents.

It would be easy to believe that this is all just fun and games – until we examine our current state of global affairs and recognize the looming possibilities all around us.  No, we haven’t yet had (spoiler alert #2 of 2) a sitting president disappear – nor a vice president arrested for espionage – but we have had some interesting events that, if they ever occurred, could end up threatening and/ or ending American democracy as we know it. Only time will tell…

What I disliked about this book

There was very little to dislike about this novel – except for the fact that it appeared to be a much more substantial read (in time and length) than it actually was.  For me, a 500+ pager is usually a pretty “big bite to chew on,” but it read more like a 275-er.  Again, there is nothing to dislike.  I budgeted extra time to read it, but as it turns out, I’m going to need to rush to locate the next one much faster than expected.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I would recommend this book to anyone (of any age) who wants both a political thrill and a chill simultaneously. Whoever avoids political books due to boredom issues won’t be able to say so after reading this one.  There is a good reason why it has shot up to the top of the best seller list.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

 

 

 

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**Sneak Peek: Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism – by Robert Kuttner

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Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailSneak peek: Robert Kuttner pens an outstanding, comprehensive and in-depth examination of the confluence of events that have combined to pose a grave threat to the future of democracy – and with it all of the freedoms we have become accustomed to enjoying in our lives.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail