Darrell M. WestBillionaires: Reflection on the Upper Crust

Brookings Institution Press, 2014

by Heath Brown on October 20, 2014

Darrell M. West

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] So how many billionaires are there in the world? And what do they have to do with politics? Darrell  M. West has answered those questions in Billionaires: Reflection on the Upper Crust (Brookings 2014). West is vice president of Governance Studies and director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution.

As an election approaches, the role of money and politics is fresh on everyone’s mind. Darrell West takes this issue on at its zenith. He examines the relationship of the 1,645 men and women global billionaires to politics in the US and elsewhere. What he discovers likely confirms some of the greatest fears of many who lament elite politics. But West’s book is not simply a screed against wealth; he shows the different ways money has entered into policy-making process through new models of philanthropy and efforts to curb corruption. He offers recommendations in the book’s conclusion to address the inadequacies in our current system of campaign finance regulation and transparency laws that might limit some of the harmful effects of too much money in politics.

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