A sociologist realized that if she were ever going to understand global inequality she would have to become one of the people who helps create it. So she trained to become a wealth manager to the ultra-rich.
.. Few outlets, however, noted the professional interventions that made that happen: Mitt Romney employs at least one wealth manager to create and maintain those offshore shelters.
.. Without breaking any laws (for the most part), they enable their clients to sidestep many laws and policies—especially those designed to prevent the kind of neo-feudal concentrations of wealth emerging now.
.. In designing my own research strategy, I was particularly inspired by the work of John van Maanen—now a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management—who famously did his doctoral research on a California police department in the early 1970s, not long after the Watts riots.
.. Like van Maanen, I disclosed my real name, institutional affiliation, and research aims throughout the research process; I did not, that is, go “undercover.” Whether I was attending classes or professional society meetings, I always wore a name tag that included my place of work, so it was clear that I was a scholar linked to a research institution.
.. Finally, people in a technically complex profession—especially one that carries some degree of social stigma—don’t have many opportunities to vent about their work lives with anyone: Their family and friends are unlikely to understand the nature of the work, and with professional peers, there would always be concerns about giving away “trade secrets” or violating client confidentiality.
.. a domain of libertarian fantasy made real, in which professional intervention made it possible for the world’s wealthiest people to be free not only of tax obligations but of any laws they found inconvenient.
.. Looking at a costly divorce? No problem—just hire a wealth manager to put your assets in an offshore trust. Then the assets are no longer in your name, and can’t be attached in a judgment.
.. No litigant on earth has been able to break a Cook Islands trust, including the U.S. government
.. virtually all of them saw themselves as misunderstood good guys.
.. they portrayed themselves as protectors of elderly clients from rapacious heirs, facilitators of development finance to emerging markets, and quasi-family members to wealthy parents seeking advice on how to prevent their children from being destroyed by idleness and easy access to drugs... “The secret point of money and power is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power’s sake…but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy.”.. the professionals ensure privacy for their clients. They keep the wealthy out of the newspapers and off the radar of regulatory authorities as much as possible... make it possible for the wealthiest people in the world to gain all the benefits of society, while flouting its laws.