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The world’s largest company, WalMart Stores, has revenues higher than the gross domestic product of all but 25 of the world’s countries. Its employees outnumber the populations of almost one hundred nations. The world’s largest asset manager, a New York company called BlackRock, controls assets greater than the national reserves of any country on the planet. A private philanthropy, the Gates Foundation, spends as much worldwide on health care as the World Health Organization.
The rise of private power may be the most important and least understood trend of our time. Power, Inc. provides a fresh, timely look at how we have reached a point where thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states.
Beginning with the story of an inquisitive Swedish goat wandering off from his master and inadvertently triggering the birth of the oldest company still in existence, Power, Inc. follows the rise and fall of kings and empires, the making of great fortunes, and the chaos of bloody revolutions. A fastpaced tale in which champions of liberty are revealed to be paid pamphleteers of moneyed interests and greedy scoundrels trigger changes that have lifted billions from deprivation, Power, Inc. traces the bruising jockeying for influence right up to today’s financial crises, growing inequality, broken international system, and battles over the proper role of government and markets.
Rothkopf argues that these recent developments, coupled with the rise of powers like China and India, may not lead to the triumph of American capitalism that was celebrated just a few years ago. Instead, he considers an unexpected scenario, a contest among competing capitalisms offering different visions for how the world should work, a global ideological struggle in which European and Asian models may have important advantages. An important look at the power struggle that is defining our times, Power, Inc. also offers critical insights into how to succeed in the years ahead.
In the summer of 2013 the U.S. political landscape began to overflow with bureaucratic leaks. Lower level staffers who did not have the pay-grade to make decisions on what gets out into the public realm started leaking reports, data, and stories into the press to try and affect policies they felt were important.
This gets to the core of what Rothkopf is trying to say. The system is so democratic that the lowest man on the totem pole can possess just as much power as the woman at the top. The system is ungovernable and "power" is fleeting.
This was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in politics, sociology, and business.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book touches on all the crucial frameworks to understand the evolution of business alongside government, and the elbowings between them, leading into the present. It is a little odd that it spends as much time as it does with a massive and very old (still operating) Swedish corporation, though this turns out to play quite well against the other companies and governments shown across hundreds of years. Due time is spent weeding through ideas, from Marxism to USA's founding philosophies and legal structures, to today's organizational and legal structures across the world. After hearing all this, one can claim with good justification to some solid expertise in these topics. This is one of the better overall titles I have heard, and I've heard hundreds. It lays a groundwork to think clearly about the shifts happening now in politics, economics, and business.
What would have made Power, Inc. better?
To have let the reader now that (at least the first part of the book) is going far far back in history, describing powers of church and kings, etc. I was expecting to hear more about todays corporate powers (which might come later in the book, but I found to so lengthy that I never get there).
What do you think your next listen will be?
Paul Krugman: End This Depression Now
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
It's probably really interesting for history lovers.
Would you listen to Power, Inc. again? Why?
I will continue to go back and forth between listening to & reading "Power Inc." It offers up a lot of insight that most people will find enlightening.
What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?
It wasn't boring or monotonous. Interesting subject matter spoken about rather passionately
Any additional comments?
Anyone interested in the role of government (whether it be conservative or liberal) in the growing world of globalization and corporatization should read this book. The history of government and business goes way back, and the author does a wonderful job of examining historic references that we could- and SHOULD- be learning from today.