As far as the super-rich go, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer is one of the guys who isn’t sitting back enjoying the billions he’s made.
He isn’t because he thinks the direction of the U.S. economy and society is going in the wrong direction.
In the above recent interview with the BBC, he says if it continues along the path it is on, then the simple math says that highly unequally societies give you only one of two scenarios: a police state or a revolution.
For the past several years, Hanauer has been speaking about the dangers of the growing inequality, and more recently has been trying to rise the minimum wage across the U.S., as he helped make possible in Seattle.
“I was more conservative when I was younger,” Hanauer told Gawker.
“But I don’t think that I’ve moved left—I think the country has moved right,” he said. “I think the idea that giant profitable corporations should pay their workers enough so that they don’t need food stamps—since when is that left wing? How did that become ‘leftie?’ That doesn’t seem leftie to me. That seems common sense.”
“The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution, ” he wrote in Politico.
Nick Hanauer answers audience questions at BBC HARDtalk:
An issue of political leadership
“It’s about political leadership. If you care about real change, deep structural change, that involves politics, and all politics is friction. It takes leadership, and the willingness to create that friction, that leads to social change,” said Hanauer.
“When I first started talking about this stuff, it made my peers angry. There’s much more acceptance today. But if I’m realistic, it’s not getting me invited to the country club, either,” he said, and then added: “This is not a way to endear yourself to your rich friends.”
On top of being a venture capitalist, Hanauer is an author, political theorist, philanthropist, fly fisherman, husband, and father.
See one of his TED talks below. He gives some great examples of how the trickle-down effect doesn’t work, and provides some solutions for how to create a healthy economy through a prosperous middle class: