Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good
As inequality grabs headlines, steals the show in presidential debates, and drives deep divides between the haves and have nots in America, class war brews. On one side, the wealthy wield power and advantage, wittingly or not, to keep the system operating in their favor--all while retreating into enclaves that separate them further and further from the poor and working class. On the other side, those who find it increasingly difficult to keep up or get ahead lash out--waging a rhetorical war against the rich and letting anger and resentment, however justifiable, keep us from seeing new potential solutions.
But can we suspend both class wars long enough to consider a new way forward? Is it really good for anyone that most of society's wealth is pooling at the very top of the wealth ladder? Does anyone, including the one percent, really want to live in a society plagued by economic apartheid?
It is time to think differently, says longtime inequality expert and activist Chuck Collins. Born into the one percent, Collins gave away his inheritance at 26 and spent the next three decades mobilizing against inequality. He uses his perspective from both sides of the divide to deliver a new narrative.
Collins calls for a ceasefire and invites the wealthy to come back home, investing themselves and their wealth in struggling communities. And he asks the non-wealthy to build alliances with the one percent and others at the top of the wealth ladder.
Stories told along the way explore the roots of advantage, show how taxpayers subsidize the wealthy, and reveal how charity, used incorrectly, can actually reinforce extreme inequality. Readers meet pioneers who are crossing the divide to work together in new ways, including residents in the author's own Boston-area neighborhood who have launched some of the most interesting community transition efforts in the nation.
In the end, Collins's national and local solutions not only challenge inequality but also respond to climate change and offer an unexpected, fresh take on one of our most intransigent problems.
"I have never read a story remotely like the one Chuck Collins has to tell. Born to the one percent, in circumstances few of us can imagine, he grew an outsized conscience and gave up his inherited wealth for a life of fighting the vicious inequality that is destroying our country. Somewhere along the way, he came to understand that the rich can be part of the solution instead of the problem and started organizing them to join in the struggle for a fair economy. The result is an electrifying challenge to the affluent as well as the one percent. 'Come out of your gated communities and gated hearts, ' he writes, because outside lies the warmth of human solidarity."--Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
"As the great-grandson of Oscar Meyer, Collins grew up in a wealthy and advantaged family. He considers himself part of the privileged 1 percent, "born on third base," with only a short hop to make it to home plate. But Collins believes it's time for our society to come to a different home, one where inequality is addressed in a new way, where the economy can be made more inclusive, and where the 1 percent can engage with the other 99 to become partners in transforming the future. Collins (99 to 1: How Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do about It, 2012) once again presents a convincing and deeply thought-provoking argument in favor of not just the need for societal change but the importance of individual action in making change happen. Written in a well-crafted, conversational style, Collins' latest is a gentle yet clear reminder to readers that real change starts by looking outside ourselves and making even the smallest connection with others."
A call to action for America's wealthy and a warning shot across the bows of their yachts if they fail to act, Born on Third Baseoffers a clear and compelling case for why the privileged and powerful must act to reverse widening inequality of income, wealth, and political power in America. --Robert B. Reich, former US Secretary of Labor; author ofSaving Capitalism"
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