Book in the news: the sham do-gooding of the billionaire class

Winners Take All

The Elite Charade of Changing the World
Anand Giridharadas
Allen Lane (£12.99)
Buy on Amazon

“Philanthrocapitalism” is the idea that, “by applying their moneymaking acumen to social investing,” business leaders can help “rid the world of disease, want, exclusion and ignorance,” says Edward Luce in the FT. Anand Giridharadas argues that this is a sham, a cover for dodging taxes or pushing causes dear to the hearts of the super-rich. Rather than benefiting society, “modern philanthropy largely reinforces the world as it is”.

Giridharadas has “embedded himself in the world he writes about”, says Joseph Stiglitz in The New York Times, and he avoids bombast to make a “tactful and subtle” argument. This allows him to present “a devastating portrait of a whole class, one easier to satirise than to reform”. It’s hard to disagree with his conclusion that “democracy and high levels of inequality of the kind that have come to characterise the US are simply incompatible”.

His skewering of those who “exalt their own goodness while making money from dubious business practices” makes “for entertaining reading”, says Bethany McLean in  The Washington Post.

The problem is his solution. Giving more money to governments is something many readers “cynical about the private sector but also versed enough in history to be cynical about governments” might disagree with.

• Listen to Merryn Somerset Webb in conversation with Anand Giridharadas on the MoneyWeek Podcast.

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