Nick Hanauer

American businessman
Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer (born 1959) is an American entrepreneur


  • I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality. It has never happened. There are no examples. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state or an uprising.
  • Raising wages doesn't kill jobs that creates them because for instance when restaurant owners are suddenly required to pay restaurant workers enough so that now even they can afford a restaurant doesn't shrink the restaurant business it grows it obviously.
  • Many economists would have you believe that their field is an objective science. I disagree, and I think that it is equally a tool that humans use to enforce and encode our social and moral preferences and prejudices about status and power, which is why plutocrats like me have always needed to find persuasive stories to tell everyone else about why our relative positions are morally righteous and good for everyone: like, we are indispensable, the job creators, and you are not; like, tax cuts for us create growth, but investments in you will balloon our debt and bankrupt our great country; that we matter; that you don't. For thousands of years, these stories were called divine right. Today, we have trickle-down economics. How obviously, transparently self-serving all of this is.
  • I am a capitalist, and after a 30-year career in capitalism...I'm not just in the top one percent, I'm in the top .01 percent of all earners. Today, I have come to share the secrets of our success, because rich capitalists like me have never been richer.... here's the dirty secret. There was a time in which the economics profession worked in the public interest, but in the neoliberal era, today, they work only for big corporations and billionaires... over the last 30 years, in the USA alone, the top one percent has grown 21 trillion dollars richer while the bottom 50 percent have grown 900 billion dollars poorer, a pattern of widening inequality that has largely repeated itself across the world. And yet, as middle class families struggle to get by on wages that have not budged in about 40 years, neoliberal economists continue to warn that the only reasonable response to the painful dislocations of austerity and globalization is even more austerity and globalization.
  • So, market capitalism is an evolutionary system in which prosperity emerges through a positive feedback loop between increasing amounts of innovation and increasing amounts of consumer demand. Innovation is the process by which we solve human problems, consumer demand is the mechanism through which the market selects for useful innovations, and as we solve more problems, we become more prosperous. But as we become more prosperous, our problems and solutions become more complex, and this increasing technical complexity requires ever higher levels of social and economic cooperation in order to produce the more highly specialized products that define a modern economy.
    Now, the old economics is correct, of course, that competition plays a crucial role in how markets work, but what it fails to see is that it is largely a competition between highly cooperative groups -- competition between firms, competition between networks of firms, competition between nations -- and anyone who has ever run a successful business knows that building a cooperative team by including the talents of everyone is almost always a better strategy than just a bunch of selfish jerks.
  • So how do we leave neoliberalism behind and build a more sustainable, more prosperous and more equitable society? The new economics suggests just five rules of thumb.
    First is that successful economies are not jungles, they're gardens, which is to say that markets, like gardens, must be tended, that the market is the greatest social technology ever invented for solving human problems, but unconstrained by social norms or democratic regulation, markets inevitably create more problems than they solve. Climate change, the great financial crisis of 2008 are two easy examples.
  • Inclusion creates economic growth. So the neoliberal idea that inclusion is this fancy luxury to be afforded if and when we have growth is both wrong and backwards. The economy is people. Including more people in more ways is what causes economic growth in market economies...The third principle is the purpose of the corporation is not merely to enrich shareholders. The greatest grift in contemporary economic life is the neoliberal idea that the only purpose of the corporation and the only responsibility of executives is to enrich themselves and shareholders. The new economics must and can insist that the purpose of the corporation is to improve the welfare of all stakeholders: customers, workers, community and shareholders alike.
  • Greed is not good. Being rapacious doesn't make you a capitalist, it makes you a sociopath. And in an economy as dependent upon cooperation at scale as ours, sociopathy is as bad for business as it is for society.... Neoliberal economic theory has sold itself to you as unchangeable natural law, when in fact it's social norms and constructed narratives based on pseudoscience. If we truly want a more equitable, more prosperous and more sustainable economy, if we want high-functioning democracies and civil society, we must have a new economics.
  • You get that a lot. "If you care so much about taxes, why don't you pay more, and if you care so much about wages, why don't you pay more?" And I could do that. The problem is, it doesn't make that much difference, and I have discovered a strategy that works literally a hundred thousand times better...which is to use my money to build narratives and to pass laws that will require all the other rich people to pay taxes and pay their workers better. And so, for example, the 15-dollar minimum wage that we cooked up [in Seattle) has now affected 30 million workers. So that works better.

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