Born on Third Base | Chuck Collins

Summary of: Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good
By: Chuck Collins

Introduction

In ‘Born on Third Base’, Chuck Collins unravels the deepening wealth inequality in America, elaborating on the various ways the richest 1% have amassed enormous wealth while the rest of the people (the 99%) continue to struggle. The book exposes the influence of the political system, charitable organizations, media, and Wall Street on this growing disparity. Collins argues that this widening gap is adversely affecting the environment, the common welfare, democracy, and the quality of life. The author emphasizes that it is essential to address these issues to ensure a healthy society where opportunities are indeed available for all.

Inequality, the 1%, and Economic Rigging

This summary discusses the increasing wealth gap in America, primarily caused by tax cuts for the rich instated during Reagan’s presidency. Since then, the top 1% of Americans have become significantly richer, while everyone else has lost financial ground. The 1% employs five ways to rig the economic system in their favor: political influence, charity sector influence, media influence, organizing networks, and partnering with Wall Street game riggers. All these tactics culminate in the fact that the combined wealth of the 400 richest people in the US surpasses the total wealth of the poorest 150 million Americans. In the same vein, the wealth of the world’s richest 1% is worth $42.7 trillion, while the world’s three billion poorest people’s cumulative worth pales in comparison. Additionally, the summary mentions how the US borrowed more than $1 trillion between 2001 and 2010 just to provide tax cuts to people making $250,000 annually. Wealth inequity had existed for long, but Americans were previously okay with it, believing that hard work could lead to riches for all. However, the 2008 economic collapse proved that prosperity was not within everyone’s grasp.

Wealth Inequality: A Threat to Society and Democracy

Wealth inequality threatens not only individuals but also the environment, housing, leisure time, society, democracy, and children’s schooling and health. As the 1% continues to accumulate wealth and power, the quality of life for everyone else progressively worsens. The US society is characterized by enormous disparity, and a small group of superrich individuals, who change economic and political rules in their favor, is responsible for it. Corporations and business parties to the Wall Street inequality machine labor to influence politicians to favor the rich and powerful, neglecting the negative economic effects of their actions. However, America faced a similar period of growing inequality during the Gilded Age, and with the right progressive leaders, the US reversed excessive wage and wealth inequality, and so can do it again.

The Wealth Inequality Experiment

For decades, the US has been experimenting to see how much inequality it can handle. The top 1% of the population, specifically the superrich, have accumulated a vast amount of wealth in the past few decades, which is not a result of economic cycles, but rather a man-made event. Economic, corporate and tax rules have been altered to favor financial assets, leading to a wide wealth gap. The majority of Americans now believe in a more equitable distribution of wealth and want big corporations to pay fair taxes. The Occupy Wall Street movement highlights this issue, calling for universal healthcare, affordable housing, and quality education for all.

Corporate Malpractice

Multinational corporations use various strategies to take advantage of inequality. They prioritize their rights over their employees, discard them, and lobby for favorable policies. They also control the media and evade taxes while benefiting from government-provided public services. Financial speculators reap the benefits without creating any tangible value for the economy. Such malpractices need to be addressed to reduce inequity and promote a fairer business environment.

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