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A society top-heavy with billionaires may seem like a paradise of upward mobility, but it actually more closely resembles a boneyard of broken dreams for all but a lucky few. Between 1980 and 2008, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of Americans grew by a meager 1 percent compared to a whopping 403 percent for the top .01 percent. We tend to regard these large fortunes as proof of a meritocracy, yet there is no evidence that members of today’s super-rich are any more talented or hardworking than were the elite of a generation ago. Via vivid profiles of billionaires–ranging from philanthropic capitalist Bill Gates and the infamous Koch brothers to brazen private equity baron Stephen Schwarzman–Billionaires’ Ball debunks the notion that they “deserve” their grand fortunes, when such wealth is really a by-product of a legal and economic system that’s become deeply flawed and is now threatening the quality of life and very functioning of our democracy.
“A blistering yet utterly entertaining account of the rampaging growth in economic inequality.”–Robert W. McChesney, coauthor of Dollarocracy
“A fascinating account of how many of the country’s super-rich made their fortunes and why they do not deserve them. Billionaires’ Ball will leave readers both better informed and infuriated.”–Dean Baker, author of False Profits
“Lively, tough-minded, and impeccably researched, Billionaires’ Ball powerfully demonstrates how ruthless political opportunism–as opposed to talent, hard work, or innovation–is helping the rich get richer. The current system, unjust and socially destructive, McQuaig and Brooks argue, sacrifices the interests of the bottom 99 percent (as the Occupy Wall Street movement has described it) to ensure unprecedented wealth and privilege for the 1 percent at the top.”–Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power and Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children
“A devastating exposé of the real-world impact of extreme wealth concentration, from two of our most rigorous, knowledgeable, and humorous chroniclers of corporate excess.”–Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine
“In this breezy and lucid tale of the rise, fall, and return of plutocracy in America, Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks make a compelling case for taxes, especially on the inheritance of great fortunes that could renew American society from one generation to the next.”–James K. Galbraith, author of Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis