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Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and StickYou with the Bill) Paperback – Bargain Price, December 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
As an investigative reporter, Johnston is a big-game hunter. He skewers popular plutocrats like Buffett, digs up the dirt on unsavory sources of Paris Hiltons fortune and details Apple executive Steve Jobss backdated stock options thievery.
If youre concerned about congressional earmarks, hedge fund tax breaks, subsidies to sports teams, K Street lobbyists, the state of our health-care system, to say nothing of the cavernous gap between rich and poor, youll read this fine bookas I didwith a growing sense of outrage.
John C. Bogle, founder and former chairman, The Vanguard Group
Johnston is an indefatigable reporter whose work recalls the muckraking epics of the Progressive era.
An engaging look at how the superrich consistently and outrageouslyrely on public handouts while preaching about free markets and wasteful entitlement programs all the way to the bank.
Top Customer Reviews
Some of the items presented in detail in the book include how one of the largest baseball teams in the country destroyed a public park for a new stadium, had it paid for by the citizens, and then gave payback to politicians who helped.
Or the two major hunting and fishing chains that got millions and millions in tax subsidies to build stores based on false and unsustainable promises, and continue to try to rape the treasuries of communities across the country with more false promises.
Or the company who built a call center in Buffalo using tax subsidies and sold it to the public through a newspaper owned by the same company.
These are just several examples of the material detailed in the book. In addition to showing who is taking, and how, the author details who is fighting back and how they are trying to in an era when the courts and politicians are held by corporate interests.
The book is well written, and well documented. In addition, the author took what can be a very dry subject and made extremely readable. This book should be read by every American, particularly in light of the upcoming presidential elections. Some familiar names will pop out at you as individuals who made their fortunes off our backs.
At the very beginning, Johnston explains what the invisible hand of Adam Smith means, for the benefit of those who know it and for those who only think they do--of which there are more than enough of the latter. Smith postulated that a free market economy creates competition that serves the common good but, (and here's the kicker), does not work if government provides them bounty (subsidies), or allows them to collude to keep prices high. He also stated that there would be enterprises that would operate to seek bounties only, the equivalent of modern corporate welfare.
Johnston provides chapter after fascinating chapter of how government at all levels offers break after break which is consistently picked up by Average Joe Taxpayer. Such "bounties" include:
· Misuse of eminent domain, which is supposed to mean appropriating land for the common good such as a new highway or airport. Now it is used to support developers who wish to profit at the expense of the homeowner.
· Tax breaks. Not only do companies such as Wal-Mart, Cabela, or Bass Pro insist on property tax breaks that decimate the local economy rather than improve it, but they might even insist on keeping the sales tax. Communities may not see a return on their investment for decades.Read more ›
Showing it's no accident that our political institutions too often serve the interests of the rich and powerful, Mr. Johnston "follows the money" -- the money that buys special favors, and the money that's siphoned out of our pockets to pay for them.
This is an eminently readable and informative book, that deserves a large audience. But be warned -- being informed can produce outrage!
Eric Alan Isaacson
Question to all: How come no Dateline or 60 Minutes investigation hasn't exposed this ongoing scam?
How come newspapers just won't harp mercilessly on the politicians about that?
THAT is the real tragedy that shall cost this country its very preeminence. A non-informed citizenry is prime material for being robbed of their money and freedoms.
George Washington, as usual, got it right: If we allow political parties to exist rather than looking out for everyone's interests in a non-partisan way, the parties will sell out the public interest for pennies to get money to run election campaigns and conduct party politics.
It's popular now to say we need a change in Washington, a change that involves changing political parties in charge of governing. Wrong! Really, how foolish can we get? Can't anyone remember what Washington said?
In the meantime, you can read the excellent exposes in David Cay Johnston's book to help you realize that your Federal, state, and local legislators in the United States are selling out your and your children's interests to curry favor with those who will give them large campaign contributions. Yes, there's some corruption but mostly it seems to be related to wanting power and more power . . . and not understanding what the costs will be.
Once again, we see tales of how the fig leaf of "free markets" is invoked to put in changes that cause "rigged markets" with vastly increased profits.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So much of what Mr. Cay reports on is still going on. How do "we the people" continue to allow it amazes me.Published 12 days ago by Packrat
IT WILL MAKE YOU SICK TO LEARN EVERYONE HAS THEIR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS. BY THE TIME YOU STICK YOUR OWN IN THERE IS NOTHING LEFT. GREAT JOB.Published 3 months ago by dennis medeiros
This is a fairly decent book with lots of information. Unfortunately, much of it is tedious and rather repetitive, even a little boring. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Rhio9
If you want to really get your head out of the sand and become even more disgusted with the dealings of government at all levels, this is a read for you. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bob Anderson
Couldn't put this book down - and half of it is highlighted to share the considerable and remarkable information provided to encourage others that the 99% of us have much more in... Read morePublished 5 months ago by kim anderson
Good book. Explains why there "ain't no free lunch". Somebody pays.Published 7 months ago by RANDALL MARTIN's Mom