Podcast

Big Tech podcast: Anand Giridharadas on how taxes—not philanthropy—will change the world

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There is a growing sense that governments are not able to effectively solve the problems of the world. The narrative is that governments are slow, costly and not informed enough to make the right decisions. This stands in contrast to the private sector—business leaders are regarded as effective leaders because they generate incredible wealth. 

The “savior complex” is particularly strong among the wealthiest tech executives. Their worldview is rooted in the idea that we can use technology to solve all the world’s problems. 

In this episode of Big Tech, co-hosts David Skok and Taylor Owen speak with Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.

Giridharadas speaks about the rise of powerful tech executives using their wealth and influence to reshape systems of governance—instead of supporting democratic institutions, they are creating their own philanthropic organizations. For Giridharadas, these elites are the new plutocrats who have seized power through wealth, much like the railroad tycoons of old. “There is [an] enormous moral difference between five guys deciding to do something and a city deciding to do something. This is something I think you wouldn’t have had to explain to people 100 years or 200 years ago, when we actually had more faith in the idea of democratic action,” he says.

He goes on to explain that where funds are coming from is more important than the amount of funding, citing military aid to Ukraine as an example. There is a difference between $400 million dollars provided by the American taxpayer and $400 million dollars provided by a wealthy executive who isn’t elected to represent the best interests of a population. Giridharadas argues that if tech billionaires really want to help make the world a better place, they should just pay their fair share in taxes, and leave governments to solve the world’s problems.

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