The Poor Plutocrats

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Online Engagement

One of the things I talk about in the book is the rhetoric of the mids when these tech companies were starting to really push into our lives. They were going to be forces of a democratic leveling. They were going to empower people. They were going to flatten the hierarchies of the physical world. They were going to decentralize power. We used to worry years ago about the kind of monopolies you had in steel and railroads and things like that. Facebook could probably have the power to tip an election result — that is just the kind of power that needs to be regulated.

I have little kids. Do you know how regulated our car seats are? How are these car seats so much more regulated?

The Poor Plutocrats by Maurus Jókai, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

How do they come with so many more warning labels than Facebook? Why do you think that so many in Western democracies today equate wealth with intelligence, or look to the rich to solve problems? This is a very good question, because it broadens the circle of complicity beyond the plutocrats themselves.

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And we cooperate with them by participating and spreading a culture that views them as saviors. I spend a certain amount of time in Europe, and when I go to Europe one thing that strikes me is that very few people seem to think of someone like Mark Zuckerberg as a big savior or hero. But in America, we allowed this savior halo to develop around him.

That halo is a product of our beliefs, our media, the way journalists cover people like that, the way our president invites people like that into the White House to become sages and opiners on the future. If we denude these plutocrats of their moral glow, I think it would actually become much harder for them to rule us.

The first step is to safely stop believing their hype. What do you say to people in the United States, Britain and other countries faced with a rising tide of populism who say that this is what you get when you ignore the problems of working-class voters? I think one of the arguments that happened after Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump was about whether this was about economic anxiety, or whether it was racism. I think the importance of racial resentment and the desire of white people and men to stay on top was overwhelming.

I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.

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In cash. My friends and I own a bank.

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Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other Multiple homes, my own plane, etc. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. Goodbye, Caldor. And Borders. And on and on. Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success.

Catalog Record: The poor plutocrats | HathiTrust Digital Library

The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer.

Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash - Rutger Bregman

So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. Amazon did somewhat better.

Catalog Record: The poor plutocrats | HathiTrust Digital Library

Now I own a very large yacht. I was a mediocre student. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship.

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And what do I see in our future now? At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In , the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent.

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