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Pity the Billionaire: The Unlikely Resurgence of the American Right Paperback – January 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846556023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846556029
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,722,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"No one fools Thomas Frank, who is the sharpest, funniest, most intellectually voracious political commentator on the scene. In Pity the Billionaire he has written a brilliant expose of the most breath-taking ruse in American political history: how the right turned the biggest capitalist breakdown since 1929 into an opportunity for themselves." -- Barbara Ehrenreich "Brisk and searing and deeply informed by the lessons of history (shocking notion!), Frank's latest guide for the perplexed is nothing less than a precious gift to us. Read it, and finally--You. Will. Understand." Rick Perlstein "Frank is one of the best leftwing writers America has produced" -- Nick Cohen Observer "Trenchant and witty" -- Alexandra Frean The Times

About the Author

Thomas Frank is the author of The Wrecking Crew, What's the Matter with America?, and One Market Under God. A former opinion columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Frank is the founding editor of the Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper's. He lives outside Washington, D.C.

More About the Author

Founding editor of The Baffler, Thomas Frank is the author of One Market Under God, The Conquest of Cool and What's the Matter With America? He is also a contributor to Harper's, The Nation, and the New York Times op-ed pages.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Right from the Introduction, Frank's insights and way with words are amazing.
Loyd E. Eskildson
This book goes along way to explaining what happened and why the bad guys got to parade as the good guys without getting called on it.
GenkiRingo
In this looking glass world, it is the policies of John Maynard Keynes that turned a recession into the Great Depression.
Diziet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By  on February 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
It is hard for us in the UK to comprehend what has happened to US politics in the past few years, but this book goes a large way towards teaching us. Obama took office amid a feeling of hope, spreading not only across the USA but round the world. How that could go so wrong, how he could find himself now, vilified by the Right, is an interesting tale.

A great wrong had been done to the country, through the downturn. The Right had to make sure they didn't take the blame for it, and they did this by playing mind games with the US electorate. They devised a "them" and "us" model, where the bankers who fraudulently traded worthless securities suddenly became the victims, hampered by too much government intervention. The "free market" had been tampered with by "them." "They" were trying to take away "our" freedom to choose our health plan by introducing a state-run scheme. That was anti-competitive, and that meant it was anti-capitalist and so anti-democratic, so the logic went. (In the competitive market, you get sick, you don't pay, you die, by the way.)

We have had little exposure over here to the Tea Party movement, apart from the gaffes of Sarah Palin. We have not been told how this movement has been funded and manipulated by big business and the right wing media of the Murdochs, but if you read this book you will get a better understanding of what has been happening over there. Not that it is easy to understand, because the arguments the Right have used are shot through with contradictions: do they hate big business, the banks, or love them? It all depends what day it is.

An image that struck me recently was a Republican primary, where an elderly woman was baying at the camera that she wanted government to "get out of her face.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Diziet on January 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
As many have pointed out the last thirty years have been dominated by neo-liberal economics. Based on the ideas of writers and academics such as von Mises, Hayek and Friedman, the state has been 'rolled back', regulation of industry and finance weakened or repealed and taxes for the rich reduced in the belief that a 'rising tide raises all boats'. The result has been that the gap between the poorest and wealthiest has widened considerably. And, of course, the whole pack of cards has finally come crashing down. Why, then, are we witnessing what Professor Colin Crouch calls 'The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism'? Why is this failed doctrine not consigned to history as it was in the 1930s? Why, instead of searching for alternatives to a socially divisive and materially destructive ideology, do so many people demand more of the same? As Thomas Frank puts it:

'Before the present economic slump, I had never heard of a recession's victims developing a wholesale taste for neoclassical economics or a spontaneous hostility to the works of Franklin Roosevelt. Before this recession, people who had been cheated by bankers almost never took that occasion to demand that bankers be freed from "red tape" and the scrutiny of the law. Before 2009, the man in the bread line did not ordinarily weep for the man lounging on his yacht.' (P3)

In the following chapters, Frank attempts to explain this phenomenon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on January 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Right from the Introduction, Frank's insights and way with words are amazing. He tells readers that we're in a confused time, rising up against imaginary threats to rallying to economic theories we don't understand. Those who spent their lives making, designing, and/or writing things found that only finance mattered. Wall Street now owns the government and our tax money, thanks to Federal agencies being honeycombed with alumni and future employees of Wall Street. But public rage has migrated from Wall Street to Washington - against government, taxes, and federal regulations. Rants about 'death panels,' 'deadbeat homeowners,' loss of personal freedom, 'government doesn't create jobs, businesses do,' conspiracies, socialism, etc. became common, and even banks and their CEOs came to be seen as victims. (The logic for the latter came from Paulson's forced recapitalization of banks, even those not apparently needing it, along with efforts to reign in CEO pay, and allegations that government pressure for sub-prime loans were the root cause of the Great Recession). In 2010 the House of Representatives saw its biggest mid-term swing since 1938, with 63 seats going from blue to red.

It's been over 30 years since Arthur Laffer brought us supply-side economics and we paired it with laissez-faire and Adam Smith's 'invisible hand,' bringing income stagnation, weakened job security and benefits, increased inequality of income and assets, unaffordable health care, and soaring federal deficits. Privatization, free-trade agreements, and free trade have run amok, creating not just the 'Great Recession,' but also rabid resistance to preventing its recurrence! And so, instead of repentance, the Republican Party and the electorate have doubled down for more of the policies that got us here.
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