Anand Giridharadas @AnandWrites @TIME editor at large. Author of @WinnersTakeAll, THE TRUE AMERICAN, & INDIA CALLING. MSNBC political analyst. @PriyaParker's man. Father. Rhymes with "almond." Jan. 28, 2019 2 min read

It is no accident that we are having a conversation, finally, about whether we should even have billionaires in America at the very moment when billionaire encroachment is peaking.

Look, full disclosure, this subject has been my personal obsession for some time now. But in the last few months, just consider the news, day after day, about billionaires and us.

You got your Sacklers, sowing an opioid crisis and washing the reputation stain by “giving back.”

You got your Zuckerberg, pledging to end all disease using the proceeds from a company that plagues American democracy.

You have Google, talking big about opening information, while refusing to fix its bro problem — and quietly lobbying against its own female employees’ right to organize.

You got your Jeff Bezos, getting into the philanthropy game even as he runs a massive Bachelor-style contest to see which cash-starved jurisdiction will pay the richest man on earth more money that could have gone to fixing subways.

You got your Larry Fink, trying to wax eloquent about purpose and sustainability, while his Blackrock is guzzling ExxonMobil shares.

You have the Koch brothers doing all they can to put the planet in peril, with evidence that it's working, and even in New York no one has the chutzpah to take their name off the marble wall. 

You got your Michael Bloomberg, a man smart enough to know that wealth concentration is a problem, flirting with the idea that a man who represents that concentration and helped facilitate it just might be a great presidential savior. 

You got your Waltons, trying to use African-American community leaders to be the face of their stealthy billionaire charter-school agenda. 

You got your Michael Dell, trying to use his philanthropy to shoot down tax increases that would soothe and save lives on an infinitely greater scale. 

You got your Rupert Murdoch, providing a de facto state propaganda arm to the most dangerous administration in American history.

You got your Johnson family, sprinkling that philanthropic coin far and wide -- even as it emerges that some of that money was earned while suppressing internal concerns that baby powder contained asbestos. 

And now @HowardSchultz. At what point do we, as a brave people, say: Enough. We won't let our public life be a billionaire playground anymore. Take your hands off the wheel of the ship of state, and go back to your little yacht.

You can follow @AnandWrites.


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