Clif Hostetler's Reviews > Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right

Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank
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Mar 15, 12

bookshelves: current-events
Read from March 07 to 14, 2012

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 Kansas?" So I wish him well, and I recommend this to book those looking for political analysis from the political left.
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message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny 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.

Well said. I shall try to remember that.


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