- 32,99 zł
In nearly every realm of daily life there is an invisible velvet rope that divides how we live. On one side, appointments are secured, queues are skipped and doors are opened. On the other, people fight for an empty seat on the plane, a place in line at a theme park or even a medical exam.
Schwartz shows how business innovators have stepped in to exploit the gap between the rich and everyone else, shifting services away from the masses and finding new ways to profit by serving the privileged. The frictionless world of VIP experiences seems like good business, but as this model expands, the costs are mounting. Schwartz's gripping account takes us on a glittering, behind-the-scenes tour of this new reality - and shows the toll the velvet rope divide is taking on society.
New York Times economics reporter Schwartz explores the "Versailles-like world" that corporations, universities, and the health-care industry have built for wealthy Americans, leaving everyone else to "scramble for basic service," in this sharp and illuminating debut. Tracing the phenomenon to economic principles including "product differentiation" and "capacity constraints," Schwartz argues that rising income inequality and data-driven marketing are creating "a zero-sum game" that pampers the rich and punishes the middle-class and poor. His examples of the "velvet rope economy" include IvyWise, a consulting company that charges up to $150,000 to help high school students apply to college; Private Suite at LAX, a standalone airport terminal with its own TSA agents and freeway access; and medical care "navigators" who arrange for clients to participate in clinical trials and see top specialists. Though companies can maximize profits by catering to the rich, such stratification threatens the "egalitarian impulse that once characterized American life," Schwartz argues. He praises Southwest Airlines, which has no first-class seating, and entrepreneurs such as Nick Hanauer, an Amazon investor whose philanthropic endeavors aim to close the wealth gap. Schwartz explains economic concepts clearly and succinctly, and avoids anticapitalist dogma in making his case for reform. Entertaining and infuriating, this carefully balanced inquiry strikes the right chord.