Are The Rich Worth A Damn?

nyt mag richA vigorous case for the super rich is argued by Edward Conard of Bain Capital in an interview with Adam Davidson for the New York Times Magazine:

Ever since the financial crisis started, we’ve heard plenty from the 1 percent. We’ve heard them giving defensive testimony in Congressional hearings or issuing anodyne statements flanked by lawyers and image consultants. They typically repeat platitudes about investment, risk-taking and job creation with the veiled contempt that the nation doesn’t understand their contribution. You get the sense that they’re afraid to say what they really believe. What do the superrich say when the cameras aren’t there?

With that in mind, I recently met Edward Conard on 57th Street and Madison Avenue, just outside his office at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped build into a multibillion-dollar business by buying, fixing up and selling off companies at a profit. Conard, who retired a few years ago at 51, is not merely a member of the 1 percent. He’s a member of the 0.1 percent. His wealth is most likely in the hundreds of millions; he lives in an Upper East Side town house just off Fifth Avenue; and he is one of the largest donors to his old boss and friend, Mitt Romney.

Unlike his former colleagues, Conard wants to have an open conversation about wealth. He has spent the last four years writing a book that he hopes will forever change the way we view the superrich’s role in our society. “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong,” to be published in hardcover next month by Portfolio, aggressively argues that the enormous and growing income inequality in the United States is not a sign that the system is rigged. On the contrary, Conard writes, it is a sign that our economy is working. And if we had a little more of it, then everyone, particularly the 99 percent, would be better off. This could be the most hated book of the year…

[continues in the New York Times Magazine]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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15 Comments on "Are The Rich Worth A Damn?"

  1. Eric_D_Read | May 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm |

    And here’s a great analysis of Davidson’s habit of sucking off scumbags like Conard and calling it journalism.

  2. I don’t think Donald Trump is. He seems like the type that would give to charity only to feel better about himself/tax deductions, but then doesn’t and uses the money to hunt down the batman instead.

  3.  like all other such teachings, the best thing is to distance oneself from those would buy this as once they realize they’ve been dupped into subservient position they would lash out socially to have someone else under them so they won’t be at the bottom

  4. herzmeister | May 6, 2012 at 6:52 am |

    He basically argues that “the rich”, i.e. investment banks make the economy more efficient.

    And he’s right. That’s also what elites believe.

    What they don’t understand is that the problem we have is actually *too much* efficiency, as Prof Bernard Lietaer points out.

    Nature doesn’t strive towards 100% efficiency. Real life eco systems rather balance efficiency with resilience. Resilience largely meaning decentralization, flexibility, uncommitted potential, creative adaption to change.

    • The economy as it is promotes greed, and even encourages younger generations to abandon the careers they’d enjoy for careers that make them more money, or in some cases forces them into what’s basically slavery based on their families status and what their schools decide their value is. That really limits our creativity/adaptivity. I think we need to be working faster on self sufficiency and free society which should come with advances in technologies like renewable energy/resources and robotics. Of course they’ll still have to fight the people who are jealous that they’ve had to live a wasted life, and see a free society as one that achieves nothing but siting on their ass eating chocolate and giggling at copyright infringing pictures of cats.

      Sorry got carried away but I suppose the way bankers make the economy more efficient is kind of like the way cutting a corner off of a square wheel makes the wheel more efficient.

  5. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Firstly, no one hates the super rich just because they’re rich so the title “are they worth a damn” is loaded and begging the question. We hate the system that unduly favors the super rich and shits on everyone else. Secondly, growing income inequality has preceded a great number of societal collapses. In fact, it’s one of the leading direct causes of societal collapse. Journalism fail.

  6. i think he just proved the very poor, point…all the’problems’start when the public did start investing ,three days  later… blam madness

  7. Liam_McGonagle | May 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |


    “. . . Conard’s version of the financial crisis ignores much reporting and analysis — including work I’ve done with NPR’s “Planet Money” team — that shows that some of the nation’s largest banks actively manipulated customers and regulators and, sometimes, their own stockholders to profit from dangerous risk. And for many economists, rising inequality can create exactly the wrong outcomes for society over all. Rather than simply serving as an invitation for everybody to engage in potentially beneficial risk-taking, inequality can allow those with wealth to crush new ideas.

    I kept raising these questions with Conard, but he repeatedly waved them off. “I don’t want to talk about rent-seeking,” he told me. “When you go off to a third-world country, there’s a dictator who says, ‘I’m giving the telephone franchise to my brother-in-law.’ It’s pretty hard to do that here.” I countered that many economists see rent-seeking in the United States as a much more subtle but still destructive process. If some rich people are able to get and stay rich by messing around with the rules, then those art-history majors will feel as if they have no chance to break into a well-connected, well-protected elite. . . . ”

    Well, that seems to be the key to success then:  ignore contrary views. Canard seems to feel that the way to effectively win hearts and minds is to gas anyone you doesn’t love you already.  I call this rhetorical tactic “ex-suasion”.

  8. No, no they are not worth a damn.

  9. Maks Erlikh | May 14, 2012 at 9:22 am |

    This book  which was discussed in the article does not cost a damn. 
    1. It look at a problem of innovation from one side. As a matter of fact every innovation brings not only useful changes in society.but unpredictable harm. First example. A CAR. We got from invention of a car many good things. But we became dependable on oil. We got a lot of wars because of it.We lost so needed mass transit in all big cities of the USA. Railways were destroyed because of cars .For comfort we got terrible pollution, smogs in big sites, asthma and many more problems.
    2. Computerization brought so many negative changes nobody refuses even discusses them.,CAD CAM made professions of turners ,mechanics,millers and many mote to dissapear. Millions and millions high paid job were lost in this country. But millions of works were created in China. Low educated workers could push knobs.Instead we got a new generations of boys and girls who  are cashiers. Social structure of this country was changed drastically and i do not see how we can come back.The role of computers is great in lost of this country in economic power, almost equal to greediness of local businessmen. Let us compare Germany , which has great success in exporting their production and empty American sties loosing educated population, trade deficit of both countries. How can give an answer- how much money was spent to teach people to work with computers , to heal illnesses because of 8 hours of working with them. Now how many lost jobs because of new tools.?I do not have a place to discuss results of use of shell gas.
    3. I am not a luddist but somebody in society has to take responsibility for all negative results of investments . Mr Konrad just can not think systematically.He looks in one point and cried as crazy donkey is time to go from restricted technocratic thinking which presented by Mr Konrad and his flip-flipper Mr Romny to wide social cultural modelling of possible future changes.Thast is why am not to destroy this country and vote for technocrats.

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