(Taibbi 2010) Griftopia

Taibbi, Matt. Griftopia: bubble machines, vampire squids, and the long con that is breaking America. New York: Spiegel and Grau; 2010.

If I could persuade a right-winger today to read a single book from the Left, of my choice, this is the one I would pick. Taibbi exposes the “simple fraud and crime” that Wall Street had for so long disguised as “normal capitalist business” (page 14), and — in a style that elevates the uninhibited expression of richly earned contempt and disrespect to an art form — parades before us the unclad emperors of U.S. finance, government, and journalism. Chapter 2, about Alan Greenspan, is entitled “The Biggest Asshole in the Universe”. Taibbi places the financial crimes of Wall Street in political context, convincingly exposing the workings of our fraudulent, plutocratic pseudo-democracy. Quite aside from his amusing excoriation of the villains, the sheer scale of the brigandage is astonishing. On page 123, Taibbi writes:

With the $13-plus trillion we are estimated to ultimately spend on the bailouts, we could not only have bought and paid off every single subprime mortgage in the country (that would only have cost $1.4 trillion), we could have paid off every remaining mortgage of any kind in this country—and still have had enough money left over to buy a new house for every American who does not already own one.

In chapter 6, “The Trillion-Dollar Band-Aid: Health Care Reform”, Taibbi manages to be more cynical about Obamacare than health insurance industry whistleblower Wendell Potter, and more cynical about Obama’s motives than Roger D. Hodge.



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Last revision: April 6, 2013