Holiday book recommendation: Plutocrats – The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else

51fN15CpmmL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_A few years ago, I lost perhaps my favorite liberal talking head Chrystia Freeland in the North American media to the world of Canadian politics. Freeland is now in the Cabinet of Canada as Minister for International Trade following the liberal party victory in October’s national election.

Freeland entered politics in 2013 after writing about it  and how the economy interacted with the political class for years and years. Her analysis always combined a progressive world view with a practical understanding of global politics. She was feisty often clashing aggressively with the dogmatic conservative Washington class of self-righteous blowhards. Her knowledge of world affairs would trumps theirs which is a place where so many liberal American talking heads fall down – the world view American progressives have is often a lot less informed than that of Freeland’s. Too often the American left relies on tired stereotypes of forced narratives to discuss foreign affairs – when Freeland was writing about politics she gave regularly well-thought-out and researched liberal positions that stood up to any conservative critique,

Freeland’s last work before entering politics was Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else . It’s a brilliant narrative about how the world’s wealth has been concentrated in a few hands. Those hands are not tied per se to one country but are multinational,  jet set type individuals who are as comfortable in Mumbai, Singapore or Sao Paulo as they are in New York or London. It is these people who define the new world order more than elected leaders of military dictators.

The book delves deep into the motivations for this class and the ability they have demonstrated to manipulate government oversight – or in some cases just avoid it completely. A look at recent history of the rich around the globe is woven into personality profiles –  including the need to educate one’s family in British or American schools and the use of English as the global link language between these transnational figures.

A take away from the book is that even in the most subtle ways this global elite has rigged the game in their favor. Freeland offers ideas of how we can begin to curb those excesses and create a society that works for all of us. Considering her role in the Canadian Cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it’s great that someone of her thinking and values system will have that important perch – it is something citizens not just in her home country but throughout the globe should be thankful for.


  1. Chrystia Freeland is well regarded in the Canadian Parliment and was acknowledged on the CBC At Issue program for her accomplishments in international trade negotiations with the European Union. I wish she was a member of Canada’s “true” progressive party of the New Democrats, but PM Trudeau is lucky to have her and she is probably his best performing Cabinet minister.


    1. But At Issue mostly has a Liberal Party slant, especially Andrew Coyne. The only one I really like on it is Chantal Hébert…but how could you not like her…she is the best political reporter in Canada. Overall, I think Freeland is a good “politician”, just like Liberal up-and-comer Mélanie Joly and, well, Justin Trudeau. Her political skills got CETA negotiated. I would rather have someone like Stéphane Dion work out the deal, but I am not sure that he has those kind of skills (which is why I am still baffled that he is the Minister of Foreign Affairs).

      As far as the NDP, if you want to watch anyone, watch Gerry Caplan on Power and Politics with Rosie Barton. Still, the NDP is a dying party. We have absolutely no idea who is going to lead the party. There is a socialist-center left battle going on, especially after the release of the Leap Manifesto. But one of the biggest problems is the Francophone-Anglophone split. With the NDP so big in Québéc now, they need a leader who can speak French. Nathan Cullen isn’t going to run, and neither Alexandre Boulerice. Peter Julian is about the only one out there. I know Charlie Angus and he is a very nice guy, but he cannot win over Francophone voters. I think the NDP will start slipping, especially if the Greens start rising (though Elizabeth May is no longer the leader and they have their own problems). Honestly, I think the Liberal Party will return to its “Governing Party of Canada” status.

      Okay, end of my Canadianism 🙂


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