I have lived on both sides of American inequality. I
began life in the bottom 1 percent but found my way to the top. And I
know, all too personally, that the distance between the two never has
Even before the coronavirus, before the lockdowns, and before the
murder of George Floyd—during the longest sustained economic expansion
in American history—income inequality in America had reached staggering
This contributes to a ", pits us against one another, and drives
communities further apart. That’s why I am worried about our democracy,
deeply and for the first time in my life.
I still believe in the American idea and in the values to which we have
always aspired. If we are to keep the American dream alive, our
democratic values flourishing, and our market system strong, then we
must redesign and rebuild the engine that drives them. The old
playbook—giving back through philanthropy as a way of ameliorating the
effects of inequality—cannot heal what ails our nation.
Instead, those of us with power and privilege must grapple with a more
profound question: What are we willing to give up?
I pose this question in my new op-ed in The New York Times, but I invite all of
you to become part of this conversation, to ask yourselves how you
contribute to the problem, and consider what you are willing to give up
to move us closer to a world of equality and justice.