Donna's Reviews > Pity the Billionaire: The Unexpected Resurgence of the American Right

Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank
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Jul 09, 12

bookshelves: essays-ideas
Read in July, 2012

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 even more freedom 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.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Paisley Can I borrow the book?


Donna Hi, Audrey! I wish I could pass this book on, but I read the Kindle edition. That's the only drawback with Kindle--although it's theoretically possible to share books with another Kindle user, few publishes will permit Amazon to allow that, especially with new books.

I look forward to seeing you soon!


message 3: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Paisley I will have to buy the book. Sounds great. See you on Friday.


message 4: by MomToKippy (new)

MomToKippy We do not have a free market system , we have crony capitalism and have for decades so you are sadly misinformed about what caused the meltdown. You should perhaps read some books that don't agree with your predetermined position and books on basic ecomomics.


Donna Did you actually read this book? If not, would you be so kind as to recommend one of the books on "basic economics" that you've found so enlightening?


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