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30 review for Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    Just think what the world would be like if we had more Chuck Collins’ doing the Kwakiutl Northwest Indian potlatch thing (if you know your anthropology!) of proving your worth by giving away all your wealth? (The US Calvary thought the practice of the potlatch ceremony by Native leaders proof of lack of human development to the “civilized” stage, and perhaps even still barbaric, as surely consumer goods and wealth are to be acquired and kept as part of the American culture? These thoughts found Just think what the world would be like if we had more Chuck Collins’ doing the Kwakiutl Northwest Indian potlatch thing (if you know your anthropology!) of proving your worth by giving away all your wealth? (The US Calvary thought the practice of the potlatch ceremony by Native leaders proof of lack of human development to the “civilized” stage, and perhaps even still barbaric, as surely consumer goods and wealth are to be acquired and kept as part of the American culture? These thoughts found their way into letters to the NYTs justifying genocide and US reservations using the early railroad, that gave the idea of packing humans into boxcars to Goebbels. Upon visiting and realizing that the Kwakiutls had well-developed, ethical and logical systems of thought that supported mass redistribution, Franz Boas, recipient of the first Ph.D. in anthropology from Oxford U, coined what may be the most important term of “cultural relativism” for a pluralistic society.) But I digress, and back to Collins, as that is what he did: gave away all his impressive wealth as a youth against all conventions. I met Collins only once circa 1996 after I had agreed to serve as president of the New Hampshire DSA (Democratic Socialist of America) chapter, and we had a joint meeting with a couple of Massachusetts DSA leaders, including Collins, who came up to Concord NH along with the visiting national DSA leader (whose name I cannot recall!) We had a total of about 80 members in the entire state, and when this leader of DSA came to meet with our group from DC, we got over 50 members to show up! (He’d remarked how he’d like to get that percentage of those that “show up” in any city or the national chapter.) Collins was a shining star, and he shared some early ideas from new organizations that still exist and are discussed here, including United for a Fairy Economy (UFE) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). (It may have been the first time I'd heard anybody use the then truly radical-socialist term of a "living wage", that took another decade for Democrats to at least mouth as important, and many of the Republican contenders for the '16 presidential race lowered themselves to use the term as a goal for "compassionate conservatives"! (Maybe there is some small reason for hope there...) Ever since Collins gave away his wealth he has admirably lived a full life of activism including trying to shame other wealthy to cough up some “community capital” of their own. I enjoyed reading about Collins’ more recent Boston community organizing and his expansion of a collaborative approach to local problem-solving in his hometown of the Jamaica Plains southern neighborhood of Boston. It is heartening to see how resources can be matched with need fairly easily if done with common sense, and I imagine the “community security clubs” could help build or rebuild the social capital lost by many across the US as isolation, alienation, and the level of unmet basic needs skyrocket. Since I’ve studied a bit about resilience in children and families, I enjoyed coming across the term “community resilience”, as that certainly is what social capital provides, and provided more of historically. Collins and his groups have worked with neighbors to identify common problems especially those that connect ecology and a betterment of our collective environment with the goal of economic sufficiency for individuals and families. All wonderful and uplifting examples that should be replicated elsewhere. I wanted to point to his earlier book, with a wonderful introduction by Barbara Ehrenreich 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do about It that I reviewed here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Collins does confirm for us how isolated the very wealthy are from the rest of society, so that often there is a lack of understanding of problems in the society. As well, opportunities for social mobility in the US are overall severely limited by low-wage jobs, even as media socializes us with what the “normal” family should possess (nice home and cars, high-tech toys) by which confusion, resentment, and anger breed when individuals question why they can’t “make it” and provide economic security for their families – what IS wrong with themselves? As the 1% dig in apparently against the rest this “class war” is bad for everybody, including the 1% because they don’t want to live fortressed in or threatened by an increasingly dysfunctional and volatile society. Some kind of redistribution of extreme wealth seems the only solution, but how many will do it, even following Collins lead? Collins has first-hand experience with the nature of philanthropy and charity in general not just missing the mark of helping a situation but that can actually damage and exacerbate inequality. It’s frustrating to be reminded that liberal giving can cause harm, although we certainly see that not just in the US but in aid across the globe. I’d learned with my years serving on a state board with Haymarket, who I imagine also has worked with Collins as both Boston-based, how funds needed to be designated to root-cause problems instead of their symptoms. (For example, instead of a contribution to the direct running of a homeless shelter we’d fund homeless people starting a newsletter for other homeless people that would build their community.) Collins, like Haymarket, starting hard discussions (for wealthy Whites on the Haymarket board!) about the “color of wealth” he knows is a huge issue. The wealthy Whites who started Haymarket started to discuss what that wealth and color meant for their focus on social justices issues like racism, and it led to the organization advocating for anti-racism and prejudice reduction work over all over, attempts to integrate an analysis of systemic racism in the work, and turned internally to examine their own racism. (Those were amazing times in the “deep North”!) This led to a couple of the first national conference on “Whiteness” that we held working with the remarkable Community Change, Inc., that is also still focusing on anti-racism in Boston after these many decades. Although Collins repeated mentions race and class as intertwined in a system of privilege that benefitted him, and how race is specifically addressed in his works in the diverse community of Jamaica Plains, I was curious about and wished to hear his views of current White racism in the greater Boston area still so infamously known for the desegregation attempt of forced busing. Collins says what is obvious to anybody paying attention: wealth destroys community. I’ve known that each and every change to the tax structure in the US, well over a dozen changes for well over a century, have taxed the top less. We’ve ignored the resulting and worsening “economic apartheid” for too long, and likely paid for it, in part, with the Trump presidency. When the wealthiest paid over 90% in taxes for the privilege of amassing a fortune via our incorporation laws those tax laws were considered fair “give back” and, indeed, corporate lawyers, as for the anti-trust legislation a bit later, wrote the damn laws! My own view is that we erred when the incorporation law was allowed to quickly define the “community good” a corporation was to provide back to a nation-state as success in selling something to somebody. The US responded to mass fortunes by allowing them both as accumulated off the backs of its laborers but also protected under corporatization, but corporations were to make our society better in return. This mistake has both reified consumerism and has done much to undermine democracy. The “speed up at the plant” of Reaganomics meant many more corporate mergers and the rapid trajectory of wealth particularly for those individuals in the financial markets. As taxes decreased on corporations, “corporate welfare” like kickbacks and abatements increased. I do feel a bit of melancholy and dismay considering how many decades we’ve had progressive organizations working specifically on dismantling economic inequality. Why do little success? What do we need to do different now? I’m older, and write my little checks here and there, and, yes, I did feel Collin’s optimism and idealism that we really just need to learn how to listen, plan, and organize in our communities better at the Women’s March I attended last month, but for all his example and perfect sense Collins is unable to get the rest of the 1% to see the folly of their way. Sometimes I believe that terms he uses like “responsible wealth”, is like that of “corporate citizenship”: both contradiction in terms, and are barely possible only through specific legislation and enforcement of that legislation. I’ve long appreciated “change theory” that I know Collins embraces, too, but the sharks continue to have to eat. We have to find some other fodder for the sharks (the 1%) to eat. Check out Collins’ excellent site, Inequality.org, and look at the difference between income inequality and wealth inequality. We know most all wealth is inherited, not made or earned, yet we’re strongly socialized to believe the latter, and that is may well be a result of our hard work. Our lack of understanding of wealth and poverty as well as a complacent middle-class prevents claim on the economic equality front. Sometimes I tell the Bertell Ollman joke - how Henry Ford II earned his fortune? Henry was down to his last nickel, and with it he bought a single apple. All night, he polished and shined that apple so by the next day he could sell it for a dime! With the dime, he bought two apples. Again, all night he polished and shined those two apples, and the next day his dad died and left him $10 million dollars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Rossi

    Well written, very personal book about bringing the very rich back into our economic community. Collins advocates sound policy and strategy, but there is quite a lot of Pollyanna-esque story telling and some too neatly wrapped "quotes". The book is better when it speaks to solid policy, regulatory, and legal action. Less good when it encourages us 99%-ers to do the work of connecting with the super rich and forge "real relationships". Is it possible? Maybe for some. But I would argue it's a bit Well written, very personal book about bringing the very rich back into our economic community. Collins advocates sound policy and strategy, but there is quite a lot of Pollyanna-esque story telling and some too neatly wrapped "quotes". The book is better when it speaks to solid policy, regulatory, and legal action. Less good when it encourages us 99%-ers to do the work of connecting with the super rich and forge "real relationships". Is it possible? Maybe for some. But I would argue it's a bit like laying responsibility for sexual assault prevention on women's shoulders. Is there some stuff we can do? Sure, but our power/options are limited because we are disproportionately negatively affected by the issue and we don't benefit from upholding the current system.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Wow! I had very high expectations for this book, having attended an All Star II conference at Star Island at which Chuck Collins was the theme speaker. So, I'd waited eagerly since July for the book's publication. Worth the wait! It exceeded my expectations because it not only contained the information and thoughts I'd anticipated but it also read so well, conveying Chuck's gentle sense of humor and breadth of soul. The book felt like a conversation with Chuck. Amazing! The title tells you the pe Wow! I had very high expectations for this book, having attended an All Star II conference at Star Island at which Chuck Collins was the theme speaker. So, I'd waited eagerly since July for the book's publication. Worth the wait! It exceeded my expectations because it not only contained the information and thoughts I'd anticipated but it also read so well, conveying Chuck's gentle sense of humor and breadth of soul. The book felt like a conversation with Chuck. Amazing! The title tells you the perspective of the book. The contents are clearly the result of decades of doing the hard work of challenging economic inequality which involves crossing a lot of lines, creating positive communities and going to a hell of a lot of meetings. Chuck has used his time well, bringing a keen intelligence and love of people to issues that are thorny at best, terrifying in their scope and meaning for humanity's future. He really has much to say! For me, the book was a renewal of my faith that working together, we can create a future that is economically equitable, Earth and soul healing. This sounds lofty, but Chuck makes it doable, practical and "enriching". This book is going to stick with me! Buy your own copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rhea

    Who knew how much I'd learn about the tax system and wealth, and in the most humane and engaging way possible. Chuck Collins has written a book that all who care about the future of this planet need to read. I especially enjoyed reading about real people who are stepping out of their 1 percent privilege to reconnect with the rest of the world. Who knew how much I'd learn about the tax system and wealth, and in the most humane and engaging way possible. Chuck Collins has written a book that all who care about the future of this planet need to read. I especially enjoyed reading about real people who are stepping out of their 1 percent privilege to reconnect with the rest of the world.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Man, I love this dude. Do me a favor, buy this book and send it to all your rich privileged friends. It's so refreshing to have someone "born on third" just straight up admit it. Maybe he's selling out his class, but I think (as does he) that he's freeing them from their own greed and confusion. I especially love his coverage of the racial wealth gap and reparations. Maybe the super rich white guys will save us! And maybe that makes sense cuz they created the problem of inequality in the first p Man, I love this dude. Do me a favor, buy this book and send it to all your rich privileged friends. It's so refreshing to have someone "born on third" just straight up admit it. Maybe he's selling out his class, but I think (as does he) that he's freeing them from their own greed and confusion. I especially love his coverage of the racial wealth gap and reparations. Maybe the super rich white guys will save us! And maybe that makes sense cuz they created the problem of inequality in the first place, right?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kaylee Thornley

    A nice little book focused on engaging the one-percent in the movement against inequality. One thing I don't like is that it seems like he didn't really see any place for class warfare, which I think can sometimes be a useful tool. The great thing about the book is that Collins is a really great storyteller. The book is filled with illustrations from his life--it's one of those books that makes you feel like what you are doing is worthwhile. I think the most important point that he makes is that A nice little book focused on engaging the one-percent in the movement against inequality. One thing I don't like is that it seems like he didn't really see any place for class warfare, which I think can sometimes be a useful tool. The great thing about the book is that Collins is a really great storyteller. The book is filled with illustrations from his life--it's one of those books that makes you feel like what you are doing is worthwhile. I think the most important point that he makes is that the wealthy are not living fulfilled lives because they lack community and they are isolated from the rest of society. He advocates for bringing them back "home" and allowing them to rejoin community--which means they have to perhaps give up their wealth and joining the fight for equality.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scgmom4yahoo.com

    read this book to understand the societal support aka 'entitlement programs' that allowed the US to have such an economic surge after WWII that carried the (white) GIs and their future offspring, generations, to prosperity to this day. read this book to understand the societal support aka 'entitlement programs' that allowed the US to have such an economic surge after WWII that carried the (white) GIs and their future offspring, generations, to prosperity to this day.

  8. 4 out of 5

    James

    Very enlightening read I was turned onto thus book after listening to an interview with the author and his discussion about the subject matter sounded very interesting. I am glad I read this book, it has helped to change my views on income inequality.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    An idea book focused on establishing income equality in the U.S. Good ideas, real stories and how to examples. This book should be used in finance and sociology classes in high schools and universities.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Everyone ought to read this. Challenges our assumptions about the complex impact of the deep wealth divide.

  11. 5 out of 5

    D Dina Friedman

    Honest and inspirational; raises many provocative questions about money and its role in our individual lives and in society.

  12. 5 out of 5

    heidi

    For a book that's about 250 pages long it sure packs a lot of insight. I rarely find a book discussing wealth inequality that actually tries to bridge the differences between the wealthy and the poor in a balanced, engaging manner, without stoking anger towards the wealthy or condescension towards the impoverished. In this book there are practical, organic, local solutions to bridge inequality via wealth redistribution and to improve resilience against economic uncertainty and climate crisis tha For a book that's about 250 pages long it sure packs a lot of insight. I rarely find a book discussing wealth inequality that actually tries to bridge the differences between the wealthy and the poor in a balanced, engaging manner, without stoking anger towards the wealthy or condescension towards the impoverished. In this book there are practical, organic, local solutions to bridge inequality via wealth redistribution and to improve resilience against economic uncertainty and climate crisis that we can try to initiate with our communities. These are actually programs and initiatives that have been running for a while in different towns / cities, with positive results, and there are links provided in the Resources section should any of us readers feel like founding something similar where we live. Collins argues mostly for a bottom up or grassroots approach (mostly because that has been his method in his long career in advocacy against inequality) and his reasons are quite compelling. The chapter on Resilience Circle reminds me a lot of Vicki Robin advocating for community-level financial interdependence as a massive step up from individual-level financial independence and sure enough, Vicki is mentioned in the Acknowledgements. I was pleasantly just a little bit surprised yet validated to see her name, haha. In my book, Vicki Robin is cool. (Check out her book Your Money Or Your Life!) Certain chapters may have sections that feel a little draggy or unrelatable, such as chapters 16 (Bringing Wealth Home) or 18 (Wealth, Come Home) but only short sections and not entire chapters. I see a few readers said they DNFed this book which is a shame because had they just skipped the sections or chapters that didn't interest them they might find some stuff worth reading in the following pages. All in all I feel that Collins tried to include as many perspectives / views and possible ways to help the fight against inequality the best he could based on what he knows and what he has experience in. This book doesn't cover all possible points of view that ever existed (which is kind of a ridiculous standard to hold against any author to begin with but I see some reviews mentioned this shortcoming). Just the fact that here is a collection of wonderfully fresh and empathetic narratives that we can use with which to fight / unlearn old narratives of wealth and bootstrapping and deservedness that had been so damaging and so divisive makes this book a 5-star in my opinion.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael McCue

    Chuck Collins the author of Born on Third Base refers to himself as a I%er. He is a great grandson of Oscar Myer. The subtitle A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good makes a good introduction to the book. Collins refers to himself as a 1%er but he has actually given away most of his inheritance. The part of his inheritance he has not and cannot give up is the privilege that comes from education, connections and knowledge. Co Chuck Collins the author of Born on Third Base refers to himself as a I%er. He is a great grandson of Oscar Myer. The subtitle A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good makes a good introduction to the book. Collins refers to himself as a 1%er but he has actually given away most of his inheritance. The part of his inheritance he has not and cannot give up is the privilege that comes from education, connections and knowledge. Collins has worked with Bill Gates Sr. on the inheritance tax issues. He and Gates Sr. agree that it is not unfair to tax large estates. He countered one opponent to the inheritance tax whose argument was that he worked very hard for his money and deserved to control all of it even in death. Collins answered that many thousands of low income people also work very hard, often long hours at several jobs and never become wealthy from their hard work. In fact their hard work has contributed to other people becoming wealthy or wealthier. Nobody becomes wealthy by themselves. Many wealthy people have claimed to have done it all on their own. Even President George W. Bush made that claim. Of course it is totally dishonest, Bush was born wealthy and became wealthier with lots of help. As Collins points out inequality is not good for the country as a whole and it is not good for the wealthy either. This book is worthwhile. I recommend it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    LynnB

    Eye-opening, thought-provoking. Everyone should read this.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie Boland

    Loved this book. It speaks to all the things I've been working on lately. Thank you for such a well thought out and applicable book. I love the tone, the content and the message. Loved this book. It speaks to all the things I've been working on lately. Thank you for such a well thought out and applicable book. I love the tone, the content and the message.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jt O'Neill

    I first learned about Chuck Collins after reading an interview with him in The Sun Magazine. What he had to say in that interview so impressed me that I immediately requested this book through the library. I was already aware of the notion of privilege but Mr Collins was able to sharpen my awareness and then push me towards greater understanding of how privilege shapes our county (world?). For the most part, it felt as if the 1% is the audience for which this book is intended but not exclusively I first learned about Chuck Collins after reading an interview with him in The Sun Magazine. What he had to say in that interview so impressed me that I immediately requested this book through the library. I was already aware of the notion of privilege but Mr Collins was able to sharpen my awareness and then push me towards greater understanding of how privilege shapes our county (world?). For the most part, it felt as if the 1% is the audience for which this book is intended but not exclusively. Yes, he provides solid background information on the "death tax" and why that tax is important to the well being of the entire community that is the United States. He illustrates repeatedly the advantages of affluent families and how children in those families start life with such a profound upper hand. He shows the value of subsidies for everyone and explains how the post WW2 housing and educational subsidies molded our current culture of social and economic inequality. Because the message that Mr Collins wants to deliver seems so directed at the 1%, I was starting to get discouraged with the book at about the midway point. I felt overwhelmed and hopeless. After all, especially with the current administration it doesn't seem likely that we can ever achieve more balanced social and economic equality. The rich have got to undergo some fundamental change. Mr Collins does present some anecdotal evidence that people are willing to change but they need to be educated. They need a rearview understanding of how we got here and how they benefited from broad social programs and subsidies. His anecdotes leave room to imagine that people can change but it's still hard to fathom that the very rich can see beyond their upbringing and family ties to be the change that needs to happen. Mr Collins outlines some of the many complex systems that enable the very wealthy to prosper and grow in wealth. Those systems are complex and well established and I don't know how they can be beat. I was fascinated (and discouraged), for example, to learn how tax policy subsidizes wealthy parents who donate to their own children's schools. I appreciated his discussions of what charity can and can't do and the need to address deficits in the public and civic infrastructure. He outlines specific steps that people with advantage (and that is broader than just the top 1%) can do to shift the dynamic of extreme inequality. I waited through much of the book for some hope and so those steps were welcome. A little further along he gets to the crux of change and that is building community. In this respect, I was reminded of Sebastian Junger's book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging in which Junger illustrates the power of community and the fact that lack of community affects everyone. That is precisely the point that Mr Collins makes in his final chapters. He emphasizes that we need the wealthy to come back into our communities and not just as monetary donors. We need them to be participating and engaging in real ways and across social and economic class lines. This is a valuable book. Our time now, our moment now, is a moment ripe for change. I see it in the Me Too movement, in the fabulous energy lead by the Parkland students, and in the inspired and informed message of Chuck Collins (and Sebastian Junger, for that matter). Come on. Read it and then dive into necessary change.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ann Tracy

    The first part of this book I found fascinating: Going back to WWII and look at the continuing growth of wealth inequality. Especially well done on systematic racial wealth inequality. I wish there was more than a one sentence mention of wealth inequality for women and for people with disabilities, however I get that one book can only do so much. Regardless I felt I learned a ton about the history of taxation and social programs in the US. Highly recommend! BUT then stop. After 1/2 way through, The first part of this book I found fascinating: Going back to WWII and look at the continuing growth of wealth inequality. Especially well done on systematic racial wealth inequality. I wish there was more than a one sentence mention of wealth inequality for women and for people with disabilities, however I get that one book can only do so much. Regardless I felt I learned a ton about the history of taxation and social programs in the US. Highly recommend! BUT then stop. After 1/2 way through, I started disliking this book. First problem is that I felt I wasn't learning anything new and the same point was being driven home over and over. I regrettably found it smug, and I don't think that was the intention. Bless anyone who gives away the majority of their wealth. But he says while the book focuses a lot on that 1% of extremely wealth, it's something that's for everyone. I didn't find that to be the case. Divesting from fossil fuels, getting off the Wall Street grid, starting community investment funds... those are certainly not anything I can relate to. Also the time investment he details isn't realistic for anyone who isn't wealthy enough to have time on their hands, and not for anyone who isn't in the best of health. My reality has never been things like transition groups and incubator projects... I grew tired of all the name mentioning of white men who's who in wealth, and had questions about some friends mentioned who had also given away their wealth. For example, it doesn't seem likely that someone changes their life by moving to "coastal big sur" to give away their money, and ends up living off $900/mo social security. Umm... that doesn't add up. And who calls themselves "Billionaire Buddah?" Eek! Some excessively rich white guy not only touting his $ but saying he's so wonderful that he's a god? Unfortunately this puts me right where he warns early in his book, how people shouldn't dislike someone because they have money and that we all need to work on solutions together. I get that. And I don't think I've ever written a review so literally on both end of the spectrum of I love this book and I hate this book. P.S. I only read this book once, not sure why it's saying I read it twice...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    DNFed @ page 103 Not a bad book, an interesting one, actually. The first DNFed book on my Goodreads that has higher than a one star rating. So why did I quit? Because 100 pages in, I was seeing a pattern, and I felt I learned the point the author was trying to make. No point in continuing for another 130 pages. In a nutshell, this book is less about the wealth inequality problem and more a case for supporting the estate tax, or "death tax." Every chapter was an anecdote of privilege or inequality DNFed @ page 103 Not a bad book, an interesting one, actually. The first DNFed book on my Goodreads that has higher than a one star rating. So why did I quit? Because 100 pages in, I was seeing a pattern, and I felt I learned the point the author was trying to make. No point in continuing for another 130 pages. In a nutshell, this book is less about the wealth inequality problem and more a case for supporting the estate tax, or "death tax." Every chapter was an anecdote of privilege or inequality, or an interview with a wealthy white male, that ultimately proposes using an estate tax to spread the wealth and fix the problem at hand. Nine chapters in, and I think I get the point now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chanelle

    Insightful and inspirational. This books takes a real look at what it means to be in the 1% and how we can all come together to make a positive change in our communities.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Evancic

    Inequality is shorthand for all the things that have gone to make the lives of the rich so measurably more delicious, year after year for three decades, and also for the things that have made the lives of working people so wretched and so precarious.” – Thomas Frank The war between the powerful few and the many is raging and the powerful few are winning. Chuck Collins, someone who was born on third base, in the top 1% of the country, contends that inequality is bad for everyone, even the superric Inequality is shorthand for all the things that have gone to make the lives of the rich so measurably more delicious, year after year for three decades, and also for the things that have made the lives of working people so wretched and so precarious.” – Thomas Frank The war between the powerful few and the many is raging and the powerful few are winning. Chuck Collins, someone who was born on third base, in the top 1% of the country, contends that inequality is bad for everyone, even the superrich. At the age of 26, Chuck gave away the ½ million dollar trust fund that his parents had set up for him. The fund would have been 7 million today. He is not the only one. Chuck interviewed 25 others who had given away substantial assets. He did it to boost economic fairness. The wealthy have already hijacked our democracy. A year before the 2016 presidential election, nearly half the money in the campaign came from just 158 families, many of them billionaires. It is wrong that so few people have so much wealth and power. Those with the wealth should pay their fair amount of taxes. An example of not paying taxes is Boeing Corporation who paid no federal taxes last year. They reported 5.9 billion in profits and paid their CEO more than they paid in annual taxes. In 2013, 358 Fortune 500 companies operated 7,622 subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions and avoided 620 BILLION in US taxes. The rich are no different than the rest of us. They are steeped in a mythology of deservedness, confusion, shame, and fear for the future. However, many times they do not see how the deck is stacked in their favor. You can see that differences in output might justify some compensation and rewards. But, 1,000 times more, ten thousand times more? The face of accelerating advantages and compounding disadvantages is disturbing. The children in the top 1% have been brought up to believe the stereotypes, myths and lies that middle-class people don’t work hard, have too many children, have addictions, lack ambition, make bad decisions and choices and can’t delay gratification. George W Bush said he was a successful businessman. His business success was due to “results and performance”. But, he tapped into family networks of wealthy investors and had them pay for a baseball park for the Texas Rangers baseball team. He invested $600,000 and sold his stake for 14.9 million. He prospered from the help of his wealthy family and friends. Donald Trump inherited a real estate empire valued between 40 million and 200 million. No one should judge them for being born with a privileged start, but you should recognize that they had advantages that the middle class does not have. They did not do it alone. They had lots of help. They are not “self-made” men. Facts: Affluentville is the 10 percent of wealth holders whose wealth ranges from $680,000 to 3 million. This includes 11 million households. Lower Richistan includes around 3 million holders with wealth between 3-10 million. Middle Richistan is 1.6 million households with assets between 10-100 million. Upper Richistan is roughly 16 thousand households with wealth over 100 million. Billionaireville is around 540 households. Many of these conceal their wealth in complicated trusts and offshore bank accounts. Billionaires like Warren Buffet, Ted Turner and Bill Gates. We need to fix the system, change the rules by building a powerful social movement. Engage wealthy people to have a commitment in their community. Have them bring their wealth and energy into local and state avenues. The ecological catastrophe at our door will wipe out our most treasured assets, ecosystems, clean water, and healthy oceans. Our fate is wound together confronting this societal challenge of unprecedented inequality. No one will want to live in a society damaged, even the most privileged. There is so much in this book, facts about assistance that was given to WWII Vets, racial wealth disparities, unequal opportunities between the wealthy and the poor. It shows the differences between giving to a charity and making a change. An example would be funding a scholarship for a child versus funding a student association organization to ensure that higher education is affordable for everyone. We need to raise the floor, level the playing field. Institute fair rules that don’t give a segment of society inequalities. Wealthy people need to be advocates for a fair revenue system and fight for proper spending priorities. We need to form Resilience Circles in our community, helping each other out. The Wall Street tax could be approved that could tax financial transactions a penny on every $4 and raise over 300 billion a year. Enough to make sure everyone has proper healthcare. “The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.” Terry Tempest Williams This was a great book that everyone should read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    In BORN ON THIRD BASE, we follow the author as he shows us how he was indeed born on third base. Born into a wealthy family, he enjoyed the benefits that come to a child of the rich: health care, excellent schools, a trust fund. He spent from his trust for his college education, yet when he finished school, that fund had doubled, despite withdrawals for his schooling—and none of the increase as payment for work. Though Collins points out the unbelievable advantages enjoyed by the wealthy, his aim In BORN ON THIRD BASE, we follow the author as he shows us how he was indeed born on third base. Born into a wealthy family, he enjoyed the benefits that come to a child of the rich: health care, excellent schools, a trust fund. He spent from his trust for his college education, yet when he finished school, that fund had doubled, despite withdrawals for his schooling—and none of the increase as payment for work. Though Collins points out the unbelievable advantages enjoyed by the wealthy, his aim is not to destroy the wealthy. He wishes them to become partners in creating a more equitable society. He wants them to work for a fairer tax system in which they pay the taxes they should pay, in exchange for a country that allows them such privileges to create wealth. He points out the benefits reaped by Americans of a few decades ago which grew the economy of the country: GI education bills, cheaper college tuition, cheap mortgages for homes, workers’ wages that were not so unequal to those of their bosses, higher taxation on the wealthy. He believes some redistribution of income is only fair, since the wealthy have themselves benefitted from subsidies for years: tax breaks, for example, which amount to a subsidy for the more well off. He favors a “GI Bill for the next generation.” He wants tax programs that broaden the opportunity for the less well-off, to the end that they also have a stake in our country and are able to contribute to a fair, productive society. Collins disputes the idea that charitable giving can take the place of tax dollars. “The priorities are different and they pay for different things.” Charitable giving pays for worthy things like museums and hospitals, but tax dollars pay for necessary things—for roads and public schools and energy grids. Collins wishes to recruit the wealthy to organize for changes because of their greater influence and power. “Our challenge,” he says, “is to use our special privileges to eliminate special privileges.” I came away impressed by Collins’ thought-provoking book, teeming with practical examples to bring about changes for a more equitable society.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin F

    Economic equality from the 1% I think the title, as well as the main premise of the book initially put me off, but after hearing what Collins has to say (and having the privilege of hearing him speak last weekend) I think I am on board with this message. Coming from the perspective of a man born into wealth who has tried to convert that wealth into social good and fight for equality, Collins argues that we can make things work by reforming our current democratic and capitalist systems, but only i Economic equality from the 1% I think the title, as well as the main premise of the book initially put me off, but after hearing what Collins has to say (and having the privilege of hearing him speak last weekend) I think I am on board with this message. Coming from the perspective of a man born into wealth who has tried to convert that wealth into social good and fight for equality, Collins argues that we can make things work by reforming our current democratic and capitalist systems, but only in a peaceful way if we engage the wealthy and work across class divisions. Reading about the exploits and excesses of the wealthy admittedly does make it difficult to imagine there is anything worthwhile to be gained from working with them, but the book does a good job of telling stories of times when this kind of collaboration has resulted in change for the better. This is also unfortunately one of the weaknesses of this book as the latter half drags a bit describing examples one after another. I would recommend picking this book up and reading the first half, then flipping through the rest to see if you find any of the particular causes engaging. Massive changes to our distribution of wealth are coming inevitably, Collins argues, but these changes can be a lot quicker and less violent if rich and poor can come to the table together for reform and redistribution of wealth.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    A view from the 1% and how they can be part of the solution to societies equal functioning rather than adhering to the edict of "If it's not nailed down, it's mine. Whatever I can pry loose, is not nailed down (CP Huntington)". Hearing that I have been living under the shining sun of "white privilege" was a little hard to digest. Although, none of us have risen to where we are without some supports from society at large, advantages that I assumed were available to all. Was I was wrong? Chuck Coll A view from the 1% and how they can be part of the solution to societies equal functioning rather than adhering to the edict of "If it's not nailed down, it's mine. Whatever I can pry loose, is not nailed down (CP Huntington)". Hearing that I have been living under the shining sun of "white privilege" was a little hard to digest. Although, none of us have risen to where we are without some supports from society at large, advantages that I assumed were available to all. Was I was wrong? Chuck Collins holds in stark relief the truth that has been the truth since Rome ruled the world. Class struggle is still with us, as are the poor, the rich, the bread dole, and someone getting a leg up because of who they know rather than their ability. I have been on both sides of that knife edge. As I see it, the challenge of society to separate personal industry from sloth in a humane way so that the world we live in is tolerable. It would be better than exceeding to our biological imperative, survival of the fittest. The author believes that community provides a path for that balance, adherence to law for a path to justice and that we need to understand that our community is bigger than JP Mass, Margate NJ, and Hollywood FL..........it's the little blue marble in the sky. There is much work to be done.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen (itpdx)

    Chuck Collins is an heir to the Oscar Meyer family. He decided to give away his inherited money. He has been working at getting the 1% to understand the support they have received from the "commonwealth" of the United States--business structure, public investment in infrastructure, the education system, etc. He has been bringing them to the discussion of wealth inequality that has been increasing dramatically in the US. There is a lot of good information and wisdom in the pages. But it doesn't s Chuck Collins is an heir to the Oscar Meyer family. He decided to give away his inherited money. He has been working at getting the 1% to understand the support they have received from the "commonwealth" of the United States--business structure, public investment in infrastructure, the education system, etc. He has been bringing them to the discussion of wealth inequality that has been increasing dramatically in the US. There is a lot of good information and wisdom in the pages. But it doesn't seem to hang together. Some of my "aha" discoveries: "Regressive populism is when people feel anxious and insecure and look for scapegoats." "Progressive populism is when people understand that the rules have been rigged by a powerful group of wealthy people and multinational corporations." Secrecy jurisdictions are places with low taxation and little transparency about who owns and benefits from them (ala the Panama Papers). It is a waste of energy to stay angry. Anger and resentment can keep you from looking around and finding allies and being strategic. This book is definitely worth reading but do not expect to come away with a plan of action.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jo Young Switzer

    All citizens who are actively working to improve our nation should read this book. In a very accessible style, Chuck Collins (self-described person of great wealth) explains how the U.S. has given increasing political power to a small number of extremely wealthy citizens and families. As more persons of wealth have entered politics or supported their favorite candidates, legislation has become friendlier and friendlier to wealthy people. Off-shore financial institutions can protect money without All citizens who are actively working to improve our nation should read this book. In a very accessible style, Chuck Collins (self-described person of great wealth) explains how the U.S. has given increasing political power to a small number of extremely wealthy citizens and families. As more persons of wealth have entered politics or supported their favorite candidates, legislation has become friendlier and friendlier to wealthy people. Off-shore financial institutions can protect money without any restraints. Laws about inheritance make it easier to pass large fortunes without punitive taxes. The laws about campaign finance, inherited wealth, and more have grown increasingly advantageous to the extremely wealthy people in this nation. Given the current leadership in the White House and tone in Congress, it is discouraging to think that the problem Collins describes is getting worse each day. Readers who appreciated the insights from the book Hillbilly Elegy will find this book comparably startling. I recommend it highly.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Highlandbird

    Worth the read. Collins makes a convincing argument that the wealthy would do well to step up and participate in the local economy to address the wealth gap. Some deep thinking here, good suggestions and good stories. He makes a strong case for higher taxes on the wealthy, but unfortunately he also points out that even redistributing much of that wealth won't put a dent in the "need," and policy prescriptions must be made. The gap is so great that even if you redistributed much of the wealth of Worth the read. Collins makes a convincing argument that the wealthy would do well to step up and participate in the local economy to address the wealth gap. Some deep thinking here, good suggestions and good stories. He makes a strong case for higher taxes on the wealthy, but unfortunately he also points out that even redistributing much of that wealth won't put a dent in the "need," and policy prescriptions must be made. The gap is so great that even if you redistributed much of the wealth of the top strata, you would barely make a difference to the US gov't debt which is not in the billions, but up at the 20 trillion mark (can't even conceive of that much money.) Still, if you are wealthy and want to help the less fortunate, or don't think it is a smart idea to leave it all to your entitled children, he has some good ideas about how to contribute to promote a healthier community and address social justice causes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Brugge

    Really well written, honest and personal, full of reminders of reasons that the common good is what is good for all, even those who still believe that they have had success "all by themselves". Plenty of pointers to the invisible commons that are so useful because they are so invisible, and to the visible advantages of the last generation that can be forgotten about (GI bill, government home loans, public works projects). I particularly liked the comparison of the trajectories of four young adult Really well written, honest and personal, full of reminders of reasons that the common good is what is good for all, even those who still believe that they have had success "all by themselves". Plenty of pointers to the invisible commons that are so useful because they are so invisible, and to the visible advantages of the last generation that can be forgotten about (GI bill, government home loans, public works projects). I particularly liked the comparison of the trajectories of four young adults, all from the same town, each with either head winds they'll be facing, or tail winds that will be pushing them along. The family and historical circumstances that will make life easier or harder for each of them come across as both relatable, by being put in the context of an individual person, and representative, because it's clear how common each of their stories are. This is a book good for both inspiration and challenge.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cindy DavisClark

    I read this book as part of the UMW reading program. This is about a man who was from a wealthy family, in the 1%, who gave away his wealth. He talks about the privilege of the wealthy beyond just the financial privilege. He talks abut the way the privileged could use their situation for the good of others. He talks about how paying our taxes helps not only others but our selves with the infrastructure of our country. . I thought about this in light of the recent loss of electricity, heat and wa I read this book as part of the UMW reading program. This is about a man who was from a wealthy family, in the 1%, who gave away his wealth. He talks about the privilege of the wealthy beyond just the financial privilege. He talks abut the way the privileged could use their situation for the good of others. He talks about how paying our taxes helps not only others but our selves with the infrastructure of our country. . I thought about this in light of the recent loss of electricity, heat and water in Texas due to the cold weather but also due to the way they structured the power system to profit the providers. He also talks about the privilege of the non wealthy in the USA compared to the Third world. He ends the book with a blueprint for use of privilege to benefit others. He ends on a hopeful note. This book was written before the Trump Presidency so it does not deal with the great divide that has increased between factions in the USA.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Good reminder of the wealth I still have despite choosing a path of downward mobility in terms of income. While I am glad that my parents modeled for me many of the values and strategies Collins espouses, and have always emphasized the importance of investing in public infrastructures, common goods and the importance of taxation for wealth redistribution, I was also clearly reminded how growing up in a wealthy California city with high property tax and a strong school’s foundation was essentiall Good reminder of the wealth I still have despite choosing a path of downward mobility in terms of income. While I am glad that my parents modeled for me many of the values and strategies Collins espouses, and have always emphasized the importance of investing in public infrastructures, common goods and the importance of taxation for wealth redistribution, I was also clearly reminded how growing up in a wealthy California city with high property tax and a strong school’s foundation was essentially (as my parents had explained) more like going to a publicly funded private school. And how really difficult it is to actively seek for more egalitarian systems even when one pursued those values in some aspects of life.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I'm not sure I can say I loved this book because it's a tough topic to not get frustrated and angry at. It is a very interesting perspective that I needed to hear, that of a privileged white male. He is right on with explaining why the system is all set to give advantages to those who already have the advantage. The examples he gives of how one person's child fairs in the same situation as another are terrific and terrifying for those who are not from a privileged family. I don't want to give an I'm not sure I can say I loved this book because it's a tough topic to not get frustrated and angry at. It is a very interesting perspective that I needed to hear, that of a privileged white male. He is right on with explaining why the system is all set to give advantages to those who already have the advantage. The examples he gives of how one person's child fairs in the same situation as another are terrific and terrifying for those who are not from a privileged family. I don't want to give anything specific away but it did add yet another layer to the hard facts I've been facing while educating myself about white supremacy.

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