Must try harder,
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This review is from: Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (Paperback)
I bought this because of the favourable reviews. As I worked through the first third or so, I gradually knocked stars off my rating, until I came to the bit about a plutocrat and PEPFAR, the Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. Both the plutocrat and the author seemed to think this was a "good thing", even if I thought it was more like some sort of atonement. The author didn't discuss PEPFAR, perhaps because neither she nor the plutocrat know what it does. While Aids relief sounds a "good thing", PEPFAR is a disgusting example of moralising religious fundamentalism. For example, recipients of such aid must give one-third of the funds towards the promotion of abstinence. I hardly need remind you that those states of the US which preach abstinence as "sex education" also have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy.
I nearly gave up at this point; the author seemed to be totally naive. But I persisted, and things do improve continually. There is more questioning of the beliefs of these plutocrats, who incidentally are not the !% but the 0.1%. It becomes clear that they live and work in an insulated bubble, largely unaware of the world around them. And if they are paid $ millions as CEO, they have their cleaners employed as contractors, denying them the usual rights of workers, because that's how things are. Well, it may well be how things are, but that's no reason to accept it; progress, as George Bernard Shaw reminded us, depends on the unreasonable man.
There are too many times when the author causally remarks that she was the moderator of such and such a forum, whether at the WEA at Davos or elsewhere. It does seem that she can be too close to such people; and there is the distinct feeling that she cannot be too caustic because of the fear of future exclusion. I' sorry, Ms Freeland, but you cannot write a critical expose, and still remain close; your expose suggests that you would like to remain close, not to offend those with the $$, and, as you make clear, the power and the clout.
The book ends, rather unexpectedly, with a discussion of Venice in its heyday. If it's not spelled out explicitly, I think the message that we are supposed to get is that such plutocracy contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction.
I award only 4 ****. I think the author could have been much more directly critical of these people, their lifestyle and their disconnect from reality; because she might try the impossible, to explain exactly how hedge funds improve society, how they work, and how whatever their stated purpose, their real aim seems to be to enrich their operatives; because, I can't follow how all such hedge funds can so enrich their bosses without their being any loosers; and because, like all of you here, I am one of the 99% and I don't really see why I should have to pay for the mistakes and greed of the 0.1%, and because this isn't really clarified for me.