Thursday, May 6, 2021

‘Jackpot’ sees how inequality is experienced by the very, very rich.

If you have ever wondered how the ultra-rich live, then it turns out – are you ready for this? – They live very well. Even in the early, chaotic days of the epidemic, they managed as a class: sprung down in the Hamptons, while the values ​​of their stock portfolios rose, able to purchase precious Kovid tests unavailable to the unaffiliated and unaffiliated.

But Michael the mechanic wants us to see that the life of a carefree being rich is not the life it is designed for. Part of his argument in “Jackpot” is that such inhumane possessions “bother us all” – including the ultras themselves, even if their reality is so far away from us that they don’t realize it What is the “we” if it comes to branding a atomizer.

The possibility of being “blissful” from the simple economic tightness seems so liberating that “rarely do we hinder our reverence for the social, psychological, and social complexities that come with great opulence.” This gave me a break: Who is responsible for considering this idea, and is it really all that? Isn’t this a conspiracy of the New Testament?

But the mechanic, a senior editor at Mother Jones, points out that the slipper at the top of the 1 percent has been cut off from the rest of the population, increasing resentment of their position while declining understanding. I was sometimes not so sure about the mechanic’s insistence that we need to extend any special sympathy to the ultra-rich, who seem more than capable of taking care of themselves. But as this readable book moved forward, I applauded his attempt to pull off a delicate balancing act: to spoil himself before serving the digestible morality of the people by digging them into the system’s fibrous, sociopolitical knot. Still working.

The mechanic deliberately chose his title, due to himself being susceptible to the greed of hitting it big. He recalls buying lottery tickets when he was working for the dot-com boom magazine The Industry Standard in the late 90s. He was indulging in the get-rich-quick fantasies of the time. The most recent was a college grad who used a trace amount of $ 30 million after Netscape went public to fill his bathtub, which he earned (“earned” doesn’t seem to be the right word). “A lottery jackpot is so raw, so anything is cut off from the real one,” the mechanic writes. He leads such obstacles to “dumb luck”, although it is clear that many rich people describe him as thinking they are too clever.

Credit …Jane werner

Yes, the mechanic allows, there are individuals who take new risks and spend years at start-up hours and probably earn more than others. But economic inequality is at its peak now, he suggests, that there is no way to explain it in the context of so-called meritocracy that occurs whenever nervous tycoons hear the words “taxes” and “redistribution”. The mechanic questions the ethics of a society that allows individuals to accumulate billions of dollars for themselves. Quoting Anand Giridhardas’s 2018 book “Winner Take It All,” The mechanic says that trusting this billionaire class for its huge philanthropic activities is a sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

The first part of “Jackpot” is dedicated to the goodies that money can buy: a $ 400,000 car, a $ 21,000 bathtub, a bespoke watch so complex that its price is a secret. Sometimes the parade of opulence is so high that I feel numb. The mechanic might say that I, like those who could actually afford such things, had hit my “saturation point”. A psychologist specializing in mental health of the rich says that when they find happiness they are actually at a loss. Less money among us can still keep up the expectation, even if it gets frustrated constantly, that more money will solve all of our problems, while “its customers don’t have that kind of weakness.”

Nevertheless, as a mechanic, those clients can spend at least as much to address their mental health issues. They can pay for concierge health care in a country where even basic, inexpensive health care is not provided. They can easily send their children to precious private schools, where the sizes of the miniscule class ensure “comprehensive nutrition”. I sometimes felt that the mechanic, despite his lukewarm talk about the need to “sympathize with the pain of fortunate people”, felt that there might be something in his readers: a stir of class anger.

One thing that makes it hard for a reader to generate too much sympathy is that the mechanic only ends up talking to some of these “lucky people”. It was not for lack of effort. As he points out, such people are highly secretive about their wealth for all sorts of reasons, including an awareness that being clear about their lives will not only become potential targets of theft and ransom demands, but There will also be jealousy – and perhaps provoke the emotions present in them. It is a shameful thing. As a result, he has mostly interviewed people who feel uncomfortable with his extreme wealth and has devoted himself to reasons such as more uniform tax codes.

Furthermore, sympathy for high-net worth individuals appears to be largely beside the point, as what the mechanic comes up with in the final third of the “jackpot” is an exploration of how many problems there are. It is super-rich White And Male Indicates that something is systemic.

The mechanic presents such a fluent survey of the vast literature on historical inequality – indicating that he is not only reading that literature, but also understands its implications – that I was surprised by his excited ending, when he points out that Transformational change can occur if only a more affluent person changes the heart.

“It should not be a French-style revolution, a rich one should be afraid,” he writes, “but rather a revolution in which they can play a constructive role, pick up a pitchfork with the rest and a neighbor You can use it to give bells in exchange for ludicrous and hearty food. ”Given that the vivid lifestyle he describes, he does not even clean his bathroom, let alone bale someone’s grass , It is unclear how this is going to work.

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