NYT, Facebook Co-Founder Team Up to Bash Capitalism: ‘Inequality: A Secret To His Success’

February 25th, 2018 1:56 PM

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, a guilt-ridden rich liberal who had an ill-fated run as owner of the liberal magazine The New Republic, was graced on Saturday with a front-page Business Day profile in the New York Times whose very headline mocks the idea of individual achievement: “Inequality: A Secret To His Success.

The online title to reporter Conception de Leon’s profile provided another facet of fawning: “The Redemption of Chris Hughes.” The subhead: “The Facebook co-founder’s rise was meteoric. He argues that the same forces that helped him succeed have made it harder for others. In a new book, ‘Fair Shot,’ he proposes a bold solution.”

Hughes, who was the tech adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, now spends his time doing penance for his own quirky success, as de Leon lovingly laid out.

Chris Hughes was raised by Lutheran parents in Hickory, N.C., and they taught him, by example, to tithe. Every year, they gave 10 percent of their income to the church and other local charities, and Mr. Hughes carried that tradition into adulthood. But in 2008, when he sold $1 million of his Facebook shares on private markets, and the amount of money he needed to give away increased exponentially, he started thinking more seriously about where his contributions might make the most impact.

So he founded the Economic Security Project, “exploring the idea of a guaranteed basic income for low- and middle-income Americans.” Some libertarians embrace versions of a basic income -- but Hughes’ take is hard-left in its aggressive redistribution of wealth.

Mr. Hughes is one of the co-founders of Facebook, for which he did “three years’ worth of work for nearly half a billion dollars,” as he puts it, emphasizing the extreme nature of his success. He and Mark Zuckerberg were roommates at Harvard, and early on, Mr. Hughes ran the company’s communications and marketing department. The social network’s colossal success fast-tracked Mr. Hughes’s career....

In his new book, “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn,” out this week, Mr. Hughes, 34, traces his ascent to show how the forces that influenced his and Facebook’s success -- technological advancements, globalization and the rise of private equity firms -- have created a “winner takes all” economy in which only a small group of people succeed.

Speaking of inequality: A 2013 Vice magazine expose noted that moneybags Hughes didn’t pay his New Republic interns.

In “Fair Shot,” he offers a solution to balance the scale: a guaranteed income of $500 a month for adults earning less than $50,000, including nontraditional workers like parents and students. His proposal is that such a program be paid for through a tax on the country’s highest earners, those whose annual income is $250,000 or more....

De Leon skipped the details of Hughes’ embarrassing reign at TNR, summarizing that “the result was not so idyllic.” Journalist Jamie Kirchick’s piece for The Daily Beast was more scathing, as Newsbusters revealed in 2014.

Even the mild criticismsoffered by the Times revealed a liberal slant. While two liberal economists are left without ideological labels, a conservative one is “conservative economist Nicholas Bloom.”