Chris Hughes worked hard. He started a business with his roommates and spent long days helping it grow. Eventually, the business flourished and the time and effort paid off. And did it ever pay. One of Hughes’ roommates was Mark Zuckerberg. And the time Hughes spent working on Facebook left him with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yes, he worked hard on the company. But in his book, Hughes also says he was lucky:

That luck wasn’t just because I was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate—much larger forces were at work. A collection of economic and political decisions over the past four decades has given rise to unprecedented wealth for a small number of fortunate people, collectively called the one percent. America has created and supported powerful economic forces—specifically globalization, rapid technological development, and the growth of finance—that have made the rise of Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, and other new billionaires possible. The companies we built went from dorm room ideas to assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars because America provided the companies with a fertile environment for explosive growth. Google, Amazon, and Facebook may be extreme examples, but the massive wealth they create for a select few isn’t as rare as you might think.

Hughes was in the right place at the right time. And now he’s making the case to give others better access to moments of chance, not so everyone can become billionaires, but so a small financial setback doesn’t lead to years of debt. Hughes proposes giving $500 a month to many Americans who earn $50,000 or less a year.

Could an extra $6,000 a year reduce economic inequality?

Guests

  • Chris Hughes Co-founder of Facebook; author, "Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality And How We Earn"

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