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Winners take all: the elite charade of changing the world

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

Follow this author on Twitter – @anandwrites

More on this work by Anand Giridharadas

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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.

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Rise of the Robots – by Martin Ford

FutureLearn US

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Rise of the Robots

by –  Martin Ford, 286 pgs.

What I found most amazing about this book

The most amazing thing about this book is the stark realization that many forms of human labor as we know it is on the tail end of its very existence.  It’s no accident that corporations have seized on both the efficiency and profitability that robots – when built and operated properly – can offer them.  Unlike humans, there are no sick days, vacations, health insurance, etc. that otherwise “inconvenience” the 24/7/365 profit machine mindset

That may seem fine in a money-making sense, but it far from solves every potential problem.  In fact, it may prove to create some brand new ones.  Unless new methods are derived to figure out how all of the millions (up to even tens of millions) of displaced workers are going to miraculously afford to buy those state-of –the-art, robotically-built products and services, then we may come to regret outsmarting ourselves in our technological prowess. 

It is something to keep in mind in our quest for perfection.  In fact, the author proposes a few interesting options with respect to how we could compensate those of us who may pay the ultimate price in this process – that of losing our careers to robots.  As one pretty insightful scientist (Isaac Newton) once put it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Let’s hope that we’re mindful of our actions as we move to the next generation.

What I DIDN’T like about this book

I thought this book was the most eye-opening I’ve read in several years.  As advanced as the concepts are, the author did a fantastic job in wording it in a way that even a very young person could relate to.  It is a game changer, a disrupter, and it will most certainly be cited often in the coming years.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

This book is (like it or not) a “must-read” for all working adults who may not even realize how close they are to being replaced in their occupation.  Yes, yours!  I would also strongly recommend it to all college students who are at the point of declaring majors and career-planning for the next stage of their lives.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

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The Third Wave – by Steve Case

FutureLearn US

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What I liked most about this book

The most interesting thing about this book is how the author tied together our most significant technological advances since the 1980s with the political, economic and social issues these advances most affected. Because he has had influence on the highest levels in both the private (business) and public (government) sectors, he was able to explain all of the nuances that only an insider could.

What challenges (or dislikes) about this book

I suppose the only challenge was trying to understand how someone could build a company (AOL) into a monster valuation and then be “unhappy” with how the circumstances turned out during and after the merger with Time/Warner.

For a reader (like me) who is also an entrepreneur, it’s strange to think that anyone could be unhappy with the results he achieved. Entrepreneurs traditionally work so hard and diligently for such a long time – and often with less than satisfactory results – that one never envisions the potential for any unhappiness in this process.  It was certainly both an eye-opener and a reminder of the cold realities of our complex business world.  That said, all entrepreneurs (satisfied or unsatisfied) should thank Steve Case for being so honest with his feelings in “letting us in” to experience a moment with him that most successful businesspeople are too proud to ever let us see.
Why and to whom would I recommend this book

This book is an outstanding read for anyone and everyone who is alive and well today.  Whether we realize it or not, we are all living in the Third Wave that is described in this book.

In the beginning of the book, I was very enthusiastic about sharing this information with my pre-teen children.  They are now in what I coined their iPod stage (in obvious hopes to rapidly accelerate into their iPhone stage).  But I often wonder how unaware they are of what we had to endure in the “old tech days” (i.e. the 90s and before).

I recall (as late as 2001) making daily references to the old AOL online process: which included modem screeches, awful delays and call drops.  However, as Steve Case properly explains, it was not only all we had, but just the starting point of so many monumental gains to come.  All of our children would feel cheated if they had to climb into a time machine for a day and revert to those days, but then again, what did we say to our parents with all of their “tech troubles?”  We should be very proud of our tech advancements and in introducing it all to the next generation.

 

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