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The concentration of wealth today in such a small number of hands inevitably created a dynamic that led to freewheeling financial speculation–a dynamic that produced similarly disastrous results in the last great age of inequality, in the 1920s. Such concentrated economic power reverberates throughout society, threatening the quality of life and the very functioning of democracy. As McQuaig and Brooks illustrate, it’s no accident that the United States claims the most billionaires but suffers from among the highest rates of infant mortality and crime, the shortest life expectancy, and the lowest rates of social mobility and electoral political participation in the developed world.
In Billionaires’ Ball, McQuaig and Brooks take us back in history to the political decisions that helped birth our billionaires, then move us forward to the cutting-edge research into the dangers that concentrated wealth poses. Via vivid profiles of billionaires–ranging from philanthropic capitalists such as Bill Gates to hedge fund king John Paulson and the infamous band of Koch brothers–Billionaires’ Ball illustrates why we hold dearly to the belief that they “earned” and “deserve” their grand fortunes, when such wealth is really a by-product of a legal and economic infrastructure that’s become deeply flawed.