Jim Braly'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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Sep 03, 2012

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Read in August, 2012

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 thousand more times, Mitt Romney, and you’ve got my support!

Here’s little more perspective 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”!
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