Aug 29, 2019 - Government Eases Local Sourcing Norms For FDI In Single-Brand Retail

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An Insider Takes Aim at Corporate America's 'Elite Charade'

The setting is ironic for a late-afternoon cocktail with Anand Giridharadas, the self-appointed scourge of well-meaning plutocrats everywhere. The author of the biting 2018 book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World has suggested the bar at the Big 4 Restaurant in San Francisco's Huntington Hotel, where he is staying. And so we sip drinks amid the dark wood paneling and white tablecloths of a redoubt that quietly screams plutocracy. Oil-painted portraits of two of the bar's namesake 19th-century railroad magnates, Leland Stanford and Mark Hopkins, gaze down sternly at us as we discuss what Giridharadas believes to be the pernicious impact of the 21st century's own robber barons.

The villains in Giridharadas's tale live in a land Fortune readers will recognize. He calls it MarketWorld, a place where any problem can be solved by market forces - including issues involving public health or primary education, which common sense suggests only governments or massive publicly funded institutions can possibly tackle. Giridharadas thinks the MarketWorld ethos enables those in charge to convey a sense of sacrifice while comfortably calling the shots, thereby preserving their place at the top. When a big company donates thousands of computers to public schools while lobbying to squelch tax hikes that would keep those schools funded, that's MarketWorld in action. "I felt there was a phenomenon of the people who benefited most from the last four decades entrenching their monopoly on the future," he says, "by claiming to be leading the charge to fix our biggest shared problems."

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