Summary of Billionaires

Reflections on the Upper Crust

Brookings Institution Press, more...

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Billionaires book summary
Billionaires who spend millions on political advocacy spur the “wealthification” of politics.


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Activist billionaires in the US spend millions of dollars on political campaigns and issue advocacy. Supreme Court rulings enabling unlimited spending by super political action committees (PACs), opaque accountability and increasingly weak investigative journalism paved the way for a new political philanthropy. Darrell M. West, the Brookings Institution’s vice president of governance studies, contends that the agendas of rich activists – such as Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, Michael Bloomberg and George Soros – don’t align with the interests of the general public. He takes a hard look at politically motivated philanthropy and its impact on the US government and its citizens. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends West’s carefully researched, well-reasoned analysis of the impact of personal wealth on the democratic process.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What drives the wealthiest one percent of the US population
  • How billionaires apply wealth to political advocacy
  • How billionaire activism affects the democratic process


Wealth and Privilege
Since 2005, the assets of the US super-rich have doubled from one to two trillion dollars. America’s moneyed one percent controls one-third of US wealth. While after-tax income for average workers remained about the same from 1979 to 2009, the top one percent’s income...
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About the Author

Darrell M. West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, wrote or co-wrote 20 books, including the bestsellers Air Wars and Digital Government.

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