The latest podcast from the Canadaland network (previously) is Dynasties, wherein host Arshy Mann delves into the scandals, backroom deals, and secret string-pulling employed by the "great families" of Canada, where wealth and political power have been gathered into just a few hands, all clinging tight to that power.
Mann starts by observing that his city councillor is a Layton, his mayor is a Tory, his premier is a Ford and his PM is a Trudeau, painting a picture of a nation in the grips of a hereditary political class, before pivoting to the other nexus of power: money.
Episode one focuses on the Stronachs, whose dynasty was founded by Frank Stronach and his company, Magna, the world's largest auto-parts company. Frank's daughter, Belinda, dabbled in politics, made a bid to run the Conservative party, crossed the floor and joined the Liberals, took up with hockey bad-boy Tie Domy, and, according to her father (who sued her for half a billion [Canadian] dollars), stole the company out from under him.
Frank Stronach, meanwhile, has embarked on a series of commercial and political misadventures, including the creation of a flaming bronze the size of the Statue of Liberty of a pegasus kicking the shit out of a dragon; he also founded a far-right party in his native Austria, modestly called "Team Stronach for Austria," which failed miserably. He's also the author of a risible book in which he proposes a method for making everyone in the world happy (spoiler: the secret is deferring to billionaires).
Scratch a billionaire and you'll find a eugenicist, someone who refuses to believe that their success is the result of luck, and instead attributes it to "good blood" — which conveniently provides a moral framework for allowing their kids to inherit all that wealth and power, and poses dynastic families as the source of hereditary lines of philosopher-kings.
Shows like this one reveal the lie: the inequalities of market economies are supposedly tolerable because they reallocate capital away from people with bad ideas and move it to people with better ones, making us all better off. But in our new gilded age, the system has been rigged to allow the daffiest, most feckless, idiotic conduct without consequence or loss.
Only one episode in, Dynasty is already an important contribution to our national and global conversation about inequality and its problems. I'll be listening eagerly.
If there's one thing we know about billionaires, it's that they're not shy about suing journalists who embarrass them. Canadaland is really doing important work here. They're crowdfunded and deserve your support (I'm a donor).
Dynasties [Canadaland Commons]