Customer Reviews: A Nation of Moochers: America's Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing
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When I picked up this book I was afraid it was going to be a tirade against what we traditionally think of as the welfare state - aid to the poor. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Sykes's book. Yes, he does address the traditional welfare underclass in the first part of the book, but the vast majority of the book and its major argument is that a mooching culture is becoming entrenched in every economic class. He seems particularly upset with the mooching of corporations and the middle and upper classes.

The front jacket contains this description: "Sykes's argument is not against compassion or legitimate charity, but distinguishes between definable needs and the moocher culture, in which self-reliance and personal responsibility have given way to mass grasping after entitlements, tax breaks, benefits, bailouts, and other forms of feeding at the public trough. Persuasively argued and wryly entertaining, 'A Nation of Moochers' is a rallying cry for Americans who are tired of playing by the rules and paying for those who don't."

In many ways this is a very disturbing book. Yes, I was basically aware that some of this was going on but I really had no idea to what extent. The examples and trends described in this book are enough to make anyone reel, from progressives to conservatives to libertarians. It made me sick reading it.

This is a quick and easy read but delivers a punch to the stomach if you care about responsibility and justice. I don't see how anyone from any political persuasion can support this nonsense.

This book is 270 pages of text but it reads quickly and easily. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 31, 2012
A Nation of Moochers: America's Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing by Charles J. Sykes

"A Nation of Moochers" explores the "mooching" culture, its societal implications and what can be done to curtail it. The book includes countless examples of mooching from many walks of life guaranteed to make your blood pressure rise. Thought-provoking, insightful but misses the mark on some key issues but overall a worthwhile read. This interesting 320-page book is broken out in six parts: Part One. Moocher Nation, Part Two. The Joys of Dependency, Part Three. At the Trough, Part Four. Bailout Madness, Part Five. Middle-Class Suckers and Part Six. What's Fair?

1. Straightforward prose. The book is accessible to the masses.
2. Thought-provoking book that covers many political/economical issues of interest.
3. Generally fair and even-handed despite espousing libertarian principles. Mooching goes on at all levels.
4. A good format. The author provides many great quotes and mixes things up to keep the narrative interesting. As an example, a moocher checklist.
5. The problem of dependency, agreed. "More programs of dependency generate more reliance on ever more and varied handouts, as the habit of dependency becomes ingrained and increasingly attractive to others".
6. Sykes makes it very clear, we have become a "moocher" society. Government reliance is at an all-time high. Many compelling examples and many that will make your blood pressure go up. Infuriating at times.
7. Many great facts and tidbits throughout the book. " By tax day in 2010, nearly half of U.S. households paid no federal income taxes. After years of cuts, credits, and outright rebates, 47 percent of households had no net liability at all". Troubling.
8. The problems associated with a culture of mooching. Well argued.
9. One of the main arguments of this book and I wholeheartedly agree, "The whole point of the rule of law, argued Bastiat, was to make sure that plunder was not more rewarding than labor, and therefore its goal should always be to protect property and punish plunder." The assumption of incompetence.
10. The history of moocher nation, when it was born.
11. The problems of poverty. Good stuff.
12. Examples of government waste and fraud. Disturbing and upsetting.
13. Examples of Corporate Welfare even tax credits to moviemakers, say what? Farm subsidies...
14. Crony capitalism. The new Lobbying Class.
15. An interesting look at union abuses. Bloated pensions. Scandals.
16. The mortgage madness. Many books have been written on this topic alone.
17. The inside scoop on the Great Bailout of 2008-2009 and shame on Goldman Sachs.
18. Middle-class examples. Mooching on parents, parents mooching off children and many disturbing examples that clearly show the system is failing.
19. The debt problem.
20. Compassionate Society defined
21. Links worked great!

1. Not once does the author mentions the unconstitutional faith-based initiatives, or as I call it, the ultimate dependency...the dependency on a celestial Santa. Ayn Rand would have agreed with me.
2. The book fails to mention or discuss the ever increasing inequality problem in America. The top 1% owns 40% of all the wealth. I'm not talking about an issue of redistribution, I'm talking about an issue where the superrich have rigged the government to their favor and at the expense of the rest and it's only getting worse.
3. I would put the brunt of the blame for the mortgage crisis squarely on the predatory practices of the banking industry and the lack of government oversight. "As Richard Posner and others have noted, it is one thing to ease the burden of dysfunctional overregulation; it is quite another to use it as a cover for Wall Street to invent bogus new securities that were so lacking in transparency and so fragilely connected to reality that they bordered on the fraudulent."
4. The author doesn't discuss the crass abuses of CEOs, the golden parachutes. As an example, Lehman Brothers was not saved by the government yet the CEO left with a golden parachute worth hundreds of millions of dollars for a failed company!
5. I do have an issue with the book relying many times with the very same organizations that deny scientific consensus. As an example, the Heritage Foundation does not accept global warming and in fact has purposely misinformed the public to benefit oil companies.
6. The book in my view overemphasized "poor" moochers over the even more damaging "economically elite" moochers who have rigged the system to their advantage.
7. Charts would have added value.

In summary, reservations noted I enjoyed the book. I may disagree even strongly on some issues but in general Sykes provides many great examples and backs it up with some sound thought-provoking arguments. I think the general premise is sound though I disagree with some of the principles. Worth the read and keep an open mind. I recommend it!

Further suggestions: "No, They Can't: Why Government Fails - But Individuals Succeed" by John Stossel, "Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget" by David Wessel, "White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You" by Simon Johnson, "The Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform-Why We Need It and What It Will Take" by Bruce Bartlett, "Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present (Vintage)" by Jeff Madrick, "The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future" by Joseph E. Stiglitz, "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future" by Robert B. Reich, "The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America--and Spawned a Global Crisis" by Michael W. Hudson and "The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It" by Les Leopold.
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Parents who grew up during the Depression and WWII were always saying that they did not want their children to be deprived like they were. Dr. Spock's theories were timely for changing the ideas about discipline and beginning the "lets reason with the upset child and talk to him/her as if we are addressing an adult." Opponents issued warnings that spoiled, selfish children would become materialistic, ego-driven adults without self discipline. What used to be called character would disappear.

Well Sykes is taking a close look at how those children and their offspring turned out. He sees 2 very different cultures today. He refers to one as traditional or conservative that believes in principles. An example would be that a person buys what they can afford and are willing to be satisfied. The second group thinks that if you want it, you are entitled to have it, which means it is a right, and if no one will just give it to you, then the government is obligated to provide it free of charge.

Sykes points out that the description of the second group is closely identified with the younger generation. However, many of the Boomers feel this way. In addition, he sees the mindset of many people in both groups thinking, "As long as the money lasts until I die, that is all that matters." Most adults believe that at some point this country will go bust but hope that it will be after their lifetime.

The author discusses 2 kinds of moochers: individual and corporations. If you add up all the money spent on individual moochers, you still would not equal what corporations have finessed in a multitude of schemes. Individuals game the system or falsify their eligibility while corporations own the system.

Unfortunately, Sykes does not mention these moochers: the political class, corporate management, or education administrators.

Whether you agree or not with Sykes you will not quickly forget his 4 step scenario: a want=a need=a right=an obligation.
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on June 21, 2015
Although this is a well written book, I almost quit reading about half-way through, when I wearied of reading about individual fee-loaders. That appears to have happened to many of those who have given this book negative reviews, accusing the author of having a hard heart, or even worse, being a conservative. . But I persevered into the second half of the book, where Sykes takes on the executive suite moochers, putting them where they belong--in the free-loaders club. With more moral blame, for they don't even have the excuse of need to justify their mooching. And when Sykes gets to the villainy of the post 2008 crash bail-out he quite rightly spares no one, including the Gucci-shod revolving door Treasury officials who showered the financial firms, notably Goldman, with taxpayer money to reward them for having brought about the crash, and the politicians, Democrat and Republican, who suborned these outrages..

How can a "reviewer" complain about Sykes being a one-dimensional right-winger when he offers this trenchant quote about Goldman's rescue via the bailout of AIG:

“One of the greatest mooches of all time was orchestrated behind closed doors, without transparency, by insiders who were more interested in scratching one another’s backs than protecting either the taxpayers or the integrity of the financial system they were supposedly saving.”

That sounds pretty harsh--albeit well-deserved--to me.

Overall I found myself agreeing with virtually everything in the book. Which is scarcely surprising given his philosophy. Ordinarily, I prefer books which challenge my philosophy, and demand that I think about the arguments from the other side. This is one of the few books compatible with my views that was so well written that I enjoyed the reading, and actually learned a bit from it.
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on April 2, 2012
This book didn't tell me much that I didn't already know but having it in black and white, one chapter after the other is a very distressing commentary about the condition our nation is in. Fortunately, the chapters have sub-divisions that allow you to read smaller portions and briefer time frames. Otherwise you will get so upset it will likely raise your blood pressure. Corporate bail-outs, welfare, TARP, flood insurance abuses, green subsidies,school breakfast lunch and dinner programs, mortgage foreclosures. It is all there. As a conservative, I wanted this to be an indictment of the liberal manifesto, however, Sykes properly points out that many of these programs have endured throughout numerous presidential and republican alike. Although another reviewer claims that the author has a right wing slant, Sykes discusses some policies that have been in place almost since FDR. He does not go easy on the right. But whether you are liberal or conservative, this book should make you angry.
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on June 9, 2015
For those psychiatrists with entitled, narcissistic patients and family members, this is the perfect book to have in one's office reception area – a great conversation starter.
But do be aware that the book's author is a journalist – and talk show host.
It is a derivative book.
Not ground–breaking.
But this book is worth possessing even if it is just for the book title's potential to initiate a productive psychotherapeutic discussion.
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on February 26, 2013
Charlie does a solid job outlining the sad reality of this great nation .Well worth a read. Maybe should come with a liberal disclaimer stating the book will be less enjoyable to liberals in denial of reality.
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on February 6, 2016
While Sykes' observations do not break any new ground, he is a very good writer and states his case very cogently. We all take it for granted that dependency is not a desirable human virtue, but collecting the many examples he relates makes a much more compelling case for being alarmed. No doubt he has been derided as a rightwing fanatic, but to be fair, he accuses some of our biggest corporations of the most egregious misuse of tax funds. I do take issue with his overgeneralization, however. For example, he lumps the efforts by unions to secure generous benefits for their members through questionable collective bargaining tactics in with the actions of those who demand huge handouts from the government. Even if the unions represent public employees, that is simply the process of negotiating benefits for people who are earning them, rather than "mooching" for handouts. What is really sad is that rational, objective thinkers like Sykes are rejected by both sides of our political spectrum. The Democrats don't get it, and the Republicans don't want to get it. We should draft someone like Sykes for President, even if he objects.
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on May 13, 2013
A moocher is an old term for scrounger but CJ Sykes tells us that it fits perfectly to the society that is developing in America. The proud, wealthy nation is rapidly becoming a nation of takers, of people who want what's free, and then to claim more of that - as a matter of right. Sykes tells us why all that is wrong and deleterious to the state of the nation. First he cites example after example of what is happening across the nation. Schools are enthusiastically offering free breakfasts to the school children; and the number of school children eating breakfast in school has become a factor in the job evaluation of the principal. In some schools, breakfasts are even served in the classrooms - thus eliminating the need to get to school early.

There is a major shift in attitude to work which is exemplified in numerous situations. Some are subtle, such as the old criticism of capitalism - that its goal is to keep up with the Joneses - has now shifted to the criticism that a failure to keep up with the Joneses is seen as a failure of capitalism, namely that it is a failure of the system (in effect the state) to prop all the neighbours at the same level as the Joneses.

The emergence of takers naturally changes the moral character of the people and the nation. When a free lunch is offered, does one accept even though he can afford his own lunch? It seems that in America, whatever is free is welcome. How does that affect the wealth of the country in the long run? Sykes points to the disincentives to work and the government's readiness to bailout failures as signs that the dog is eating its own tail to survive. Over the years, America has grown a long tail - but it's shrinking.
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on May 29, 2013
A very good book, however, it is an underdeveloped argument to some extent and the reviews prior to mine tell that tale. Unconstitutional faith-based initiatives? They are only unconstitutional because the law was changed in the Progressive Era. Civil society did the hard work that government now does before the laws were changed. In Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause In The America Social Contract or the Kindle version Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract it is outlined beyond a shadow of a doubt that inequalities are intention structural artifacts to keep inequality comfortable but divisive. If the author introduced the how then the why would not be left in question. Still, a very good book that takes a snap shot of time.
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