Most helpful positive review
259 of 267 people found the following review helpful
A review from someone who actually read the book
on January 10, 2012
Just got the kindle version of this book and read it today. Overall, I thought it was well thought out, clearly displaying the current issues the country faces, providing examples, and offering solutions. I will give you some highlights:
Chapter 2: The Bailout- If you've followed coverage on the bailout, you know what happened- the Federal Reserve essentially handed taxpayer money over to the big banks, no questions asked, in order to bail them out of their bad investments (The Big Short and It Takes a Pillage are two great books that will provide more detail if you're insterested). The solution that Dylan offers here is to institute CAPITAL REQUIREMENTS. He sees this as the only way to ensure that the banks will use their own money for their schemes, rather than depend on the Fed to come along and bail them out with taxpayer money.
Chapter 3: Outsourcing: In an effort to attract foreign investors, China has devalued its own currency and made cheap labor available to US corporations. American corporations (Wal-mart is a big one) have set up shop in China, taken advantage of cheap labor, and shipped their products back to the U.S. (thanks to import taxes of 2.5% in the U.S., this is feasible. The goods don't stay in China, because the tax on U.S. goods there is 25%). Congress enacts trade laws that favor corporations (low import tariffs) rather than protect the American workforce.
Chapter 4: High Healthcare Costs: the U.S. has one of the highest healthcare costs and a lower life expectancy than other countries. The massive amounts we spend in healthcare detract from other important areas like education. We focus on illness, not prevention, not health. Health insurance companies charge outrageous prices, because they enjoy a MONOPOLY EXEMPTION that they have been able to maintain with lobbying, paid for by their corporate profits.
Chapter 5: Student Loans- we have crazy education costs- a "Debt for Diploma" system where students have debt but no jobs. The worst are for profit colleges (University of Phoenix) that get TWICE as much government money as other institutions but have lower caliber students who are more likely to default on their loans, because they either can't complete school or can't get jobs.
Chapter 6: Oil: Big Oil is bad for the environment, yet so rich from corporate profits that it can afford to buy up alternatives (see Killing the Electric Car). If we had to pay the real cost of gasoline (foreign wars, environmental costs), we would pay $10-$15 a gallon instead of $3-$4. We, the taxpayer, end up paying that difference.
Chapter 7: Corporations: Some really good stats here: in 2010, GE made a profit of $14.2 billion and had a tax bill of ZERO. They hired a team to lobby Congress for tax loopholes and then hired another team of accountants to take advantage of those loopholes- nice. In the 1950s, corporate taxes accounted for 30% of government income, today they account for under 7%. If this doesn't show you how rigged the system is in favor of corporations, I don't know what will.
Solutions: Ratigan offers many proposed ways to solve the above issues. Capital requirements for banks, stop China's currency manipulation, put more money into early childhood education, push for efficiency in the energy, GET THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS with campaign finance reform, and BLOCK THE REVOLVING door between Congress and the corporations (nothing like a high-powered corporate job after you retire from Congress- you only get this if you enact policies that favor the corporation of course).
Overall, a great read. I appreciate the shout outs to Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) and Elizabeth Warren- they have helped to bring many of these issues to the forefront. I learned a lot by reading this book- it is packed with great stats and stories that will make your blood boil (but at least he offers solutions). I hope that everyone reads the book and starts to realize that we have a bought government that no longer represents the people but corporations. Our current policies are extremely short-sighted and set up in order to further corporate interests and profit at the cost of our nation's long-term welfare. It's up to us to make our voices heard. I follow Ratigan on Huff Post, and signed his "Get the Money Out of Politics" petition- it's a small start, but I figure it's better than nothing.