In 2011 the Occupy Wall Street movement brought the issue of wealth distribution into our public conversations. The protesters and activists labeled themselves the 99 percent—those with far less wealth than the 1 percent who worked on Wall Street.
Chrystia Freeland goes further in Plutocrats. The real division isn’t between the 99 and the 1 percent, it’s between the 99.99 and the 0.01 percent! This 0.01 percent is an elite group of “super-rich” who live and see the world in dramatically different ways from the rest of society:
- Unlike the aristocracy of earlier centuries, the 0.01 percent feel that their wealth is self-made.
- National identity is less important for the 0.01 percent since they have far more in common with the rest of the people in their wealth-bracket than their fellow countrymen and women.
- The 0.01 percent like to view themselves as philanthropists, often engaging in large-scale humanitarian efforts.
Freeland has done a remarkable job, as a reporter, working her way into the community of the super-rich and learning how they think and operate. If you want to understand the mindset of a multi-billionaire, this is an interesting read.
That said, I found the book to be overloaded with business-speak that took away from the immediacy of the prose. Perhaps this is just par for the genre—I don’t read many business books!
—Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (Toronto: Doublday Canada, 2012).