Money. You’re probably thinking a lot about it these days. From a global pandemic that’s tanked the global economy, to President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill, to workers once again trying (and failing) to unionize at Amazon, who gets what and how is the recurring theme of so many important social and political debates right now.
Michael Mechanic is a long-time Senior Editor at Mother Jones. His compelling new book is called Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All. From Capitol Hill to family office suites to wine cellar bunkers, this is an eye-opening romp through the lives of the richest people in America–the so-called One Percenter and a.comprehensive look at the structures behind wealth inequality. Not to mention the psychological effects of wealth on the very people who have the most of it. "Higher wealth is associated with more entitlement and narcissism, less compassion," explains Mechanic on the podcast. "People who are wealthier tend to be less socially attuned to those around them."
In this conversation with Jamilah King, Mechanic discusses the tax code, the ways that race and gender have played into the accumulation of generational wealth, the tension between the promise of the American dream and the stark reality of the present-day wealth gap. And that specifically American landscape does not have much allure for others. "When people visualize how bad the wealth gap is in America,” Mechanic notes, “they say, I don't want to live there."