Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good

Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good


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As inequality grabs headlines, steals the show in presidential debates, and drives deep divides between the haves and have nots in America, class war brews. On one side, the wealthy wield power and advantage, wittingly or not, to keep the system operating in their favor—all while retreating into enclaves that separate them further and further from the poor and working class. On the other side, those who find it increasingly difficult to keep up or get ahead lash out—waging a rhetorical war against the rich and letting anger and resentment, however justifiable, keep us from seeing new potential solutions.

But can we suspend both class wars long enough to consider a new way forward? Is it really good for anyone that most of society’s wealth is pooling at the very top of the wealth ladder? Does anyone, including the one percent, really want to live in a society plagued by economic apartheid?

It is time to think differently, says longtime inequality expert and activist Chuck Collins. Born into the one percent, Collins gave away his inheritance at 26 and spent the next three decades mobilizing against inequality. He uses his perspective from both sides of the divide to deliver a new narrative.

Collins calls for a ceasefire and invites the wealthy to come back home, investing themselves and their wealth in struggling communities. And he asks the non-wealthy to build alliances with the one percent and others at the top of the wealth ladder.

Stories told along the way explore the roots of advantage, show how taxpayers subsidize the wealthy, and reveal how charity, used incorrectly, can actually reinforce extreme inequality. Readers meet pioneers who are crossing the divide to work together in new ways, including residents in the author’s own Boston-area neighborhood who have launched some of the most interesting community transition efforts in the nation.

In the end, Collins’s national and local solutions not only challenge inequality but also respond to climate change and offer an unexpected, fresh take on one of our most intransigent problems.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603586832
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Publication date: 09/23/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 311,689
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Chuck Collins is a researcher, campaigner, storyteller, and writer based at the Institute for Policy Studies where he co-edits He has written extensively on wealth inequality in previous books like 99 to 1, Wealth and Our Commonwealth (with Bill Gates Sr.), and Economic Apartheid in America as well as in The Nation, The American Prospect, and numerous other magazines and news outlets. Collins grew up in the 1 percent as the great grandson of meatpacker Oscar Mayer, but at age 26 he gave away his inheritance. He has been working to reduce inequality and strengthen communities since 1982 and in the process has cofounded numerous initiatives, including Wealth for the Common Good (now merged with the Patriotic Millionaires), United for a Fair Economy, and Divest-Invest. He is also a leader in the transition movement, and a co-founder of the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition and the Jamaica Plain Forum, both in the Boston-area community in which he lives.

Table of Contents

Foreword Morris Pearl ix

Preface xiii

Introduction: Time to Come Home 1

Part I Born On Third Base

1 I Heart the 1 Percent 9

2 Proceed with Empathy 15

3 Cracking Hearts Open 28

Part II Seeing Our Commonwealth

4 I Didn't Do It Alone 37

5 In the Same Boat: On the Road with Bill Gates 49

Part III Understanding Advantage

6 The Privilege Drug 59

7 The Greatest Subsidized Generation 63

8 Black Wealth, Brown Wealth, White Wealth 77

9 Unequal Opportunity 86

Part IV Unnecessary Side Trips

10 Miro in the Bathroom: Encounters with the Charitable Industrial Complex 103

11 When Charity Disrupts Justice 115

Part V Wealth, Come Home

12 The Moment We Are In 129

13 A Stake in the Common Good 141

14 Neighborhood Real Security 151

15 Community Resilience 159

16 Bringing Wealth Home 169

17 Openhearted Wealth 185

Part VI The Invitations

18 Wealthy, Come Home 207

19 All Hands on Deck 220

Conclusion: I'm from Bloomfield Hills 231

Acknowledgments 237

Resources 239

Notes 243

Index 261

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Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whether you think you want change or not.
Dick_Burkhart More than 1 year ago
From Chuck Collins may have given away his inheritance at age 26 after organizing mobile home parks, but he has not forgotten how to engage the affluent. This book recounts inspiring stories of how one percenters have been welcomed back into the 99%, by dedicating themselves to the common good. Yet all too many of the affluent have “disconnected” into bubbles of privilege, taking advantage of a system rigged by a minority of the rich. A surprising example of rigging is charitable giving. This means large tax payer subsidies (50 cents on the dollar) to rich people who pay themselves exorbitantly as foundation trustees or who give very little to true charity. Instead they mostly support things like elite colleges and art museums. Far better: (1) donate for systemic change, and (2) charity is no substitute for well-funded government services, so: “pay your taxes”, even “don’t deduct donations”. As to systemic change, Collins is right on: We must “reduce the concentration of wealth” or democracy is dead. Yes, we need strongly “progressive income, wealth, and inheritance taxes” to “redistribute” concentrated wealth. But equally important is to “predistribute” wealth by paying living wages and by broad based ownership of enterprises. In short “we need to stand with the commonwealth against the forces of predatory wealth”, to develop “generative capitalism” instead of “extractive capitalism”, and to directly invest in our communities – “going off the Wall Street grid”.
Dariel_Garner More than 1 year ago
Ground-breaking. Stunning. Having a fortune and giving it all away to benefit others is not the only reason Chuck Collins will be chronicled in the list of heroes of humanity. . . .it will be for this book. Through the use of engaging story-telling and alarming facts he leads the reader to the most audacious and loving truth, simply that in order to live a successful and fulfilling life, we must care for each other and our planet. Using his life story and those of many others he demonstrates that such a world is possible and that it may start simply by having the audacity to ask. This is a very powerful book with a powerful message that you will want to share with others..Let's hope it will start a movement.