Winners Give More As America Loses Out

Anand Giridharadas is calling hypocrisy on what he calls MarketWorld, which is a complex of elite people and institutions; a culture, really, that proclaims it is possible to do well by doing good.

“They want to change the world, while keeping it just the same enough to keep themselves on top,” he says. “They want to make a difference, while also retaining the power to make a killing.”

The former New York Times correspondent’s critique is laid out in Winners Take All, a scathing take-down of those who proclaim that you can be rich, hold on to economic power and solve entrenched social problems at the same time. As the son of Indian immigrants, Giridharadas remembers going back to India as a child, and seeing affluent people who may have been kind to their servants, but only to a point. “They would give them a thousand dollars to repair their roof,” he remembers. “But never did any of those affluent Indians think to challenge servitude itself.”

He draws parallels to those who inhabit social good spaces in Silicon Valley and other wealthy corners of America. Winners, as he calls them are, for example, “willing to talk about investing in cool new technology that would allow people to live forever in Silicon Valley,” he says. “But they’re not willing to talk about a better health care system for all.” Giridharadas believes the elite’s silence on matters of transformative change reveals “all the things that they’re not willing to talk about, would require them to sacrifice, would require the system atop which they stand to change,” he says. “And they’re not willing to do that.”

In this podcast, Giridharadas also digs into how broken systems need to change. He discusses the changing nature of government and asks what our moral obligations are when faced with these dominant structures. “We live in a society in which we’re able to do all the things we can do because there is someone tending the commons,” he says. “Government has been othered and shamed and laughed out of town, and what I think it requires of all of us, whether you work in a company or a nonprofit or you’re an activist, is to work to repair the systems that allow us to live a common life.”

Additional Resources:

New York Magazine: Why Philanthropy Is Bad for Democracy

Slate: The Cruelty of Our Age of Generosity

New York Times: Meet the ‘Change Agents’ Who Are Enabling Inequality

Aspen Institute Action Forum speech: The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You

Featured image: Anand Giridharadas

1 Comment

  1. Michael Latowicki

    This person confuses legality for morality, and condemns those who give of their own freely while he advocates extorting them for the fruits of their labor. He dorsn’t recognize the difference between what’s his and what belongs to others, and believes it is his right to redistribute what isn’t his, and to set the terms of other people’s employment. I have learned little from his ideological sermon, except that the host would not challenge any of his assumptions.

Leave a Comment