From New York Times business reporter Nelson D. Schwartz comes a gripping investigation of how a virtual velvet rope divides Americans in every arena of life, creating a friction-free existence for those with money on one side and a Darwinian struggle for the middle class on the other side.
In nearly every realm of daily life--from health care to education, highways to home security--there is an invisible velvet rope that divides how Americans live. On one side of the rope, for a price, red tape is cut, lines are jumped, appointments are secured, and doors are opened. On the other side, middle- and working-class Americans fight to find an empty seat on the plane, a place in line with their kids at the amusement park, a college acceptance, or a hospital bed.
We are all aware of the gap between the rich and everyone else, but when we weren't looking, business innovators stepped in to exploit it, shifting services away from the masses and finding new ways to profit by serving the privileged. And as decision-makers and corporate leaders increasingly live on the friction-free side of the velvet rope, they are less inclined to change--or even notice--the obstacles everyone else must contend with. Schwartz's "must read" book takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of this new reality and shows the toll the velvet rope divide takes on society.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We never fully grasped the massive divide that separates the wealthy from everyone else—until we read The Velvet Rope Economy. As business reporter Nelson D. Schwartz explains, there’s a hidden system of privilege built into American life, which determines everything from the seats we can purchase at a baseball game to how fast we get through an airport and how long we have to hold when we call our cable company. Schwartz walks us through several stunning examples that demystify the process, illustrating how the perks through which businesses and institutions reward the rich end up being subsidized by the middle class. We were shocked to read how entrenched this system has become, affecting not only conveniences like travel and leisure, but vital aspects of everyday life like education and health care. Thankfully, Schwartz also digs into many possible solutions to the problem that businesses, government offices, and even consumers can adopt. Like a progressive-minded Malcolm Gladwell, Schwartz finds the fascinating details in things we’ve always taken for granted—making us look at our everyday world with inquisitive new eyes.