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When I read (((FREE PDF))) ↚ Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right ☊ From the bestselling author of What s the Matter with Kansas , comes this insightful and sardonic look at why the worst economy since the s has brought about the revival of conservatismEconomic catastrophe usually brings social protest and demands for financial reform or at least it was commonly assumed that it would But when Thomas Frank set out into look for expressions of American discontent, all he found were loud demands that the economic system be made even harsher on the recession s victims and that society s traditional winners receive even grander prizes The American Right, which had seemed moribund after the election of , had been reinvigorated by the arrival of hard times The Tea Party movement demanded not that we question the failed system but that we reaffirm our commitment to it as Republicans in Congress took the opportunity to dismantle what they could of the remaining liberal state and Glenn Beck demonstrated the commercial potential of fueling the national angst, while each promoted the libertarian Randian economics which arch Randian, Alan Greenspan, had already admitted produced exactly the opposite results than those expectedIn Pity the Billionaire, Frank, the chronicler of American paradox, examines the peculiar mechanism by which dire economic circumstances have delivered the current set of seemingly unexpected political results Using firsthand reporting, a deep knowledge of the American Right, and a wicked sense of humor, he gives us a diagnosis of the cultural malady that has transformed collapse into profit, reconceived the Founding Fathers as heroes from an Ayn Rand novel, and enlisted the powerless in a fan club for the prosperous In the financial meltdown that punctuated the end of the G W Bush administration, sixteen trillion dollars in household wealth was incinerated on the pyre Wall Street had kindled Some of that was my wealth and unless you happen to be a member of the now infamous 1% some of it was undoubtedly yours And we are still feeling the effects of those losses.That s 16,000,000,000,000 in household wealth, middle class wealth the homes and jobs and hard earned savings of ordinary folks We re not ta In the financial meltdown that punctuated the end of the G W Bush administration, sixteen trillion dollars in household wealth was incinerated on the pyre Wall Street had kindled Some of that was my wealth and unless you happen to be a member of the now infamous 1% some of it was undoubtedly yours And we are still feeling the effects of those losses.That s 16,000,000,000,000 in household wealth, middle class wealth the homes and jobs and hard earned savings of ordinary folks We re not talking here about the wealth of billionaires or billion dollar plus banks and corporations Bank of America, Exxon, and Wall Street itself are all doing just peachy, thank you.Yet somehow, the Powers That Be those who serve the interests of the 1% managed in short order to engineer a populist movement to defend and protect the unbridled, unregulated free market system that created all this havoc Those who attempt to reestablish a reasonable balance between the interests of ordinary folks and those of the unimaginably rich and, hence, enormously powerful were labeled socialists Those who like Mitt Romney, their current standard bearer assert that what the market needs is evenfreedom to gamble with the nation s and, indeed, the world s economies are praised as being successful Successful being a synonym for having become filthy rich by whatever means and at whatever cost to ordinary people But here s the thing about this book Having reread a few pages to be sure that I had that number right 16 trillion I just kept on reading I m now committed to reading the book again It s that good.Thomas Frank writes compelling prose, and his topic in this case couldn t possibly be of greater importance I can t recommend Pity the Billionaire highly enough Well, this definitely wasn t the thing to read as Congress passes the same kind of remedy for the current recession depression as they did for the previous one It didn t work then, but it ll work now We re so screwed, you guys Burn it all down Seriously. This is a difficult book to write about, and I m not quite sure where to start I read Thomas Frank s book What s the Matter With Kansas a few years back and really enjoyed it Mr Frank, at the time, had assumed the mantle of a modern day prairie populist, like a 21st century William Jennings Bryan, who set out to understand how the people of Kansas or anywhere in Red State America could be so foolish to vote for the likes of George W Bush over John Forbes Kerry Frank was amazed that the pe This is a difficult book to write about, and I m not quite sure where to start I read Thomas Frank s book What s the Matter With Kansas a few years back and really enjoyed it Mr Frank, at the time, had assumed the mantle of a modern day prairie populist, like a 21st century William Jennings Bryan, who set out to understand how the people of Kansas or anywhere in Red State America could be so foolish to vote for the likes of George W Bush over John Forbes Kerry Frank was amazed that the people of Kansas, his home state and at one time, a hotbed of lefty political radicalism could time and time again vote against their economic interests and put a greedy Republican warmonger in the Oval Office instead of the Democrat du jour Mr Frank was utterly baffled that the good people of the Plains did not view themselves primarily as homo economicus and vote appropriately, and instead let pointless, non economic issues like God and family values interrupt their thinking Two digressions First, Mr Frank published a magazine titled The Baffler, which is perfect for him Second, the documentary What s the Matter With Kansas was utterly boring Back to business I remember What s the Matter With Kansas well because I found the author s bewilderment to be so bewildering Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that culture trumps politics, and in this he was correct People do not view themselves through the Marxist lens that Mr Frank employs throughout all of his writing That is to say, there are things that areimportant to the desperate Bible and gun clingers Mr Frank puzzles over than class solidarity, a point that is lost on the author in both his former book, and this his latest Explanatory note I don t use the term Marxist as a pejorative It is a simple statement of fact that, throughout Mr Frank s books, the spirit of class war, class envy, class solidarity, and class consciousness is omnipresent Frank even quotes Marx s famous maxim about all history being the story of class struggle, although he uses the phrase as an insult instead of a rallying cry Still Thomas Frank and Marx are well acquainted In his latest work, Pity the Billionaire The Hard Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right, Mr Frank employs a smarmy, superior, condescending tone that readers of Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins will find quite familiar He begins by re telling the story of the Great Recession trillions of dollars lost, millions of jobs evaporated, houses foreclosed, retirements ruined, businesses shuttered, etc He quite correctly, in my view lays the blame for the Great Recession at the door of Wall Street malfeasance, corporate greed, and a paucity of government regulation and oversight What Frank finds utterly beyond comprehension, however, is the response of We the People to this damn near unraveling of our nation s economy we did not rise up in a mass tide of social unity, bearing pitchforks and torches, demanding a worker s utopia to take the place of the mean and brutish free market capitalism that had driven our nation to its knees No, instead we had a Tea Party And it is the Tea Party along with Glenn Beck, Ayn Rand, the Koch brothers, Ludwig von Mises, Freedomworks, Paul Ryan, Friedrich Hayek, and conservative bloggers that Frank trains most of his ire upon How dare Americans respond to an economic crisis with Gadsden flags, town hall meetings, and the largest electoral bitch slapping the Democrats had received since the last economic meltdown Here was the opportunity to make it all right at last, and what did the unwashed, Bible thumping, gun totting, non kale eating bastards do They decried the economic stimulus They called for less taxes They railed against health care reform Oh, the horror, the horror.This isn t to say that Frank doesn t score some very legitimate points He does He also makes some wise observations about the role of small business owners and Tea Party membership, a connection I had not heard made before Likewise, Frank points out many of the let s say interesting inconsistencies of men like Rep Paul Ryan, who shrieks about government collusion with corporations while accepting very generous financial favors from these same proto fascist entities.Did you know that Amity Shales, in her widely read conservative history of the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man, didn t use GDP as a measure of the economy during the 1930s I didn t Did you know that Ludwig von Mises s prediction about socialism turning into totalitarianism was directed, not toward the USSR, but post WWII England I didn t Did you know that Glenn Beck cries a lot, and is smarter than he dresses I actually did know that.Ultimately, this book was annoying and sad It s not that the author doesn t score some solid hits on the hypocrisies of small government conservatives with big business connections Likewise, Frank points out that an unhealthy adoration of free markets can lead people to some fairly stupid conclusions about the nature of reality What annoyed me is that he is so damn self satisfied about everything it s as though he can t imagine how anyone could look at our economy, our culture, and our government and reach different conclusions than he does about how best they should be organized There is a story told by the journalist Bill Moyers about the day after George McGovern s electoral loss in 1972 Moyers was walking in downtown Manhattan when he met a woman, sobbing, and saying, How could he have lost Everyone I know voted for him The same principle is applicable here not everyone in America views themselves as, first, a worker being exploited by the Man, nor does every thinking person believe that the answer to each question of the 21st century should end with andgovernment programs, regulations, and power I will not read any of Mr Frank s books I pity him, in a sense Like many people of the far Left, has no idea what country he lives in American Horror Story A real one that shows how a major political party was taken over by brainless zombies wearing tri corner hats, waving flags with chopped up snakes, while driving 40,000 SUVs Frank delivers up a useful primer on the Tea Party, and salts it with just the right amount of snark As a special bonus, he guts Ayn Rand s Atlas Shrugged, and with genuine literary flair The book, by design, is not meant to be balanced, but late in the book he does serve up some shots for the Obam American Horror Story A real one that shows how a major political party was taken over by brainless zombies wearing tri corner hats, waving flags with chopped up snakes, while driving 40,000 SUVs Frank delivers up a useful primer on the Tea Party, and salts it with just the right amount of snark As a special bonus, he guts Ayn Rand s Atlas Shrugged, and with genuine literary flair The book, by design, is not meant to be balanced, but late in the book he does serve up some shots for the Obama administration Frank sees the financial meltdown as the greatest crisis to hit the country since the Great Depression, and one that called for another FDR Rather than being bold, Frank feels that Obama chose the path of timidity, which reduced the President, at times, to a Democratic Hoover Ouch , lamely seeking common ground with radicals Such timidity only emboldened a movement that is, in my opinion at least, as dangerous as any this country has ever faced For any American who hasn t noticed that the economy has tanked, Pity the Billionaire will get you caught up on the details oh, wait, the people who haven t noticed that the economy has tanked are the billionaires.If you liked the way George W Bush cut taxes for the rich, ran up the budget deficit with two wars he refused to pay for, and deregulated Wall Street so it could give us the back of its invisible hand, then you have the chance to go through that again Through the miracle of disho For any American who hasn t noticed that the economy has tanked, Pity the Billionaire will get you caught up on the details oh, wait, the people who haven t noticed that the economy has tanked are the billionaires.If you liked the way George W Bush cut taxes for the rich, ran up the budget deficit with two wars he refused to pay for, and deregulated Wall Street so it could give us the back of its invisible hand, then you have the chance to go through that again Through the miracle of dishonest Republican advertising, now it s Barack Obama s fault and we should elect the same party that destroyed the middle class from 2000 to 2008 Yeah Sounds good to me As author Thomas Frank says, Though it sounds curious to say so, the newest Right has met its goals not by deception alone although there has been a great deal of this but by offering an idealism so powerful that it clouds its partisans perception of reality Yeah Tell me your Big Lies a thousandtimes, Mitt Romney, and you ve got my supportHere s littleperspective from Mr Frank In the early months of 2009, it was mass public outrage against bankers that threatened to pull Americans out of their chairs and into the streets By the time a year had elapsed, however, the bonus boys misbehavior had been pretty much forgotten In no time at all, the public s rage had migrated from Wall Street to Washington Before long, the only populism available in the land was an uprising against government and taxes and federal directives in other words, it was now a movement in favor of the very conditions that has allowed Wall Street to loot the world For Americans who have read a newspaper semi regularly during the last four years, there s not a lot new in Mr Frank s book, though he does tell the story with wit and style You may even laugh or cry when you are reminded of such Bush isms as I ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system Yeah We had to destroy the village in order to save it Mr Frank s best chapter because it is unexpected is The Silence of the Technocrats Here, he deconstructs the Obama response and shows that the spineless Democrat, like the cocksure Republican, is also a crony capitalist, Wall Street s obliging lackey Yeah The king is dead long live the king Meet the new boss same as the old boss As we approach yet another big decision in November, the question arises Should we vote for Mitt or Barack In a golden Manhattan penthouse, a billionaire is laughing at our answer as he buys a tax break and orders another Gulfstream G550 Yeah He s a job creator Outrage apparently doesn t lead to reason At least according to this author there was no reasoned response to the outrage that followed the 2008 economic meltdown This book reviews the political reactions to the sub prime mortgage crisis from a liberal s point of view and finds plenty to criticize on both sides of the political spectrum Everyone agrees that there s plenty cause for outrage at the way a small number of investment bankers nearly brought the world economy to its knees A respons Outrage apparently doesn t lead to reason At least according to this author there was no reasoned response to the outrage that followed the 2008 economic meltdown This book reviews the political reactions to the sub prime mortgage crisis from a liberal s point of view and finds plenty to criticize on both sides of the political spectrum Everyone agrees that there s plenty cause for outrage at the way a small number of investment bankers nearly brought the world economy to its knees A response based on reason would conclude that the three decade long shift toward removal of regulations over the financial industry was what led to a situation where mortgage derivatives could be manufactured with reckless abandon free of government regulations It rationally follows that the prudent response to this would be to enact new government regulations to make sure that never happened again Instead, both the political right and left responded with irrational actions and positions The radical right insisted that the solution was to remove the federal government from all regulations and let the markets be free And basically, that is what has happened Democrats under Obama s leadership, instead of riding the wave of outrage in the spirit of FDR, decided to bail out the financial industry and allowed their corporate officers to continue doling out their usual bonuses The author spends most of the book making snarky quips about the Tea Party, Glenn Beck way too much Glenn Beck , Ayn Rand Chapter 8 is a review of Atlas Shrugged from a liberal perspective , the Koch brothers, Ludwig von Mises, Freedomworks, Friedrich Hayed, and conservative bloggers Reading the book is an experience similar to listening to seven straight hours of Jon Steward s The Daily Show It s entertaining for the politically liberal, but it probably doesn t deserved to be considered objective analysis I don t appreciate snarky comments when they come from the right, and I feel a bit hypocritical when I enjoy hearing snarky comments from the left.The last chapter of the book is dedicated to the topic of listing everything that Obama and the Democrats did wrong.My main excuse for reading this book is that it has a catchy title, and the author is from Johnson County, Kansas originally but now lives in Washington D.C He also put Kansas on the map by writing the book, What s the Matter with KansasSo I wish him well, and I recommend this to book those looking for political analysis from the political left This was a fun, fast yet depressing read it just reminds the reader of the ridiculously upside down logic or lack thereof that has lead countless Americans to somehow vote against common sense and against their own best interests in the aftermath of the global financial meltdown Frank is snarky, fierce and funny and I enjoyed his writing it s not his fault that a large portion of the American people have allowed themselves to be manipulated by master showmen like Glenn Beck I don t know h This was a fun, fast yet depressing read it just reminds the reader of the ridiculously upside down logic or lack thereof that has lead countless Americans to somehow vote against common sense and against their own best interests in the aftermath of the global financial meltdown Frank is snarky, fierce and funny and I enjoyed his writing it s not his fault that a large portion of the American people have allowed themselves to be manipulated by master showmen like Glenn Beck I don t know how anyone could have watched Beck forthan a few minutes let alone a steady, daily diet of his maniacal, illogical ranting, but I guess each his own I can t help but be reminded of the famous adage about never going broke by underestimating the stupidity of the American people I recall that the reviewer in the New York Times book review felt Frank went overboard in his persecution of Glenn Beck but I think the level of contempt must rise to the level of the cynical manipulation being practiced, so I had no problem with the author using examples from Beck s own shows and books to illustrate the level of chicanery Beck routinely sunk to I would recommend this book, as well as Boomerang by Michael Lewis, to anyone who watches the nightly news and wonders how in heaven s name did we get here Since I don t have the stomach to watch Fox News or listen to right wing radio personalities, these two books help explain how some of our fellow Americans have come to believe so firmly in the efficacy of voting against their own best interests and have fallen hook, line and sinker for the cult of the sacred free market at all costs My husband is a financial services professional and he sees the value in regulation, for God s sake He was telling me for years that people were overextended, using their homes as a personal bank and getting houses they couldn t afford he knew the crash was coming, it was only a matter of when That our political and business leaders couldn t see that and so badly mismanaged the aftermath for their own political and personal gain is the most galling reality of all and not much to laugh about there Thomas Frank once again takes a measured look at the seemingly irrational forces that keep U.S social, economic and political forces going ever rightward, despite the stunning failures of every single solitary tenet of the Supply Side Fundamentalist Randian faith, and just as he did in What s the Matter with Kansascomes up with plausible reasons for the collective insanity that threatens our gasping, frail republic.Along the way, Pity the Billionaire promptsthan a few laughs mostly of Thomas Frank once again takes a measured look at the seemingly irrational forces that keep U.S social, economic and political forces going ever rightward, despite the stunning failures of every single solitary tenet of the Supply Side Fundamentalist Randian faith, and just as he did in What s the Matter with Kansascomes up with plausible reasons for the collective insanity that threatens our gasping, frail republic.Along the way, Pity the Billionaire promptsthan a few laughs mostly of the gallows humor variety, I ll admit , smashes the feeble philosophical underpinnings of the market worshippers, demolishes Glenn Beck and his ilk, slaps around the Obama administration, and looks in horror at what awaits us all in the years to come Folks, it ain t pretty.This author lays out with the simplicity of a modern day Will Rogers just where we went wrong Tellingly, there s no concluding summation of how to fight back No rallying the troops to sanity No yes, but moment of optimism Frank is well, frank about where we re headed Buy this book and keep a well wrapped copy in your bunker Maybe when it s all over and we re starting again from scratch, we can remember the valuable lessons we are so incapable of learning now