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Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry Hardcover – January 10, 2012
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“This book might be the smelling salts that wake up America.”—Alan Grayson
“Greedy Bastards is superb. Dylan’s policy recommendations track with what the Committee for Economic Development has been saying on: health care, the federal deficit, corporate governance, education, a consumption tax, and campaign finance reform. His explanations are clear, and he nails health care with his criticism of the fee-for-service model. Greedy Bastards deserves wide readership!”—Charles Kolb, President of the Committee on Economic Development
“Some books explain a problem, this book gives you an entire world view. Greedy Bastards, puts everything in context and makes the enormity and entirety of our crises understandable. Dylan, as always, is incisive, sharp and pointed.” —Eliot Spitzer
“Greedy Bastards is a fantastic book! It has the perfect tone and is completely convincing.” —Lawrence Lessig, Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School
“Exiles on Wall Street like us have a platform and a responsibility to speak out. Dylan's book shows that our problems don't stem from too much capitalism but not enough of it relative to our jerry-rigged system" —Mike Mayo, financial analyst and author of Exile on Wall Street
“Very sharp, funny, and splendidly written, Dylan Ratigan's new book is perfect for Americans disgusted with both our political parties who are trying to understand the roots of our broken economy and political system.” — Thomas Ferguson, University of Massachusetts, Boston and the Roosevelt Institute and author of Golden Rule
"Readers will find a great deal to ponder, as Ratigan covers why and how he's certain the USA is 'going seriously wrong.'"—USA Today
“Ratigan delivers an energetic, powerful, and at times unsettling portrait of America in crisis … And even though his portrait of the U.S. is bleak, he believes we have options.”—Publishers Weekly
“Greedy Bastards helps us better understand why we suffer recurrent, intensifying financial crises. First, cheating has become the dominant strategy in finance. Second, cheating is dominant because finance CEOs create such intensely perverse incentives that fraud becomes endemic.”— Bill Black, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City
About the Author
Dylan Ratigan is the host of MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, one of the highest-rated, daytime shows on the network. This make-versus-take, analysis-driven daily broadcast fearlessly takes on the world of politics, money, and the unholy alliance between big business and government.
The former global managing editor for corporate finance at Bloomberg News, Ratigan has developed and launched more than half a dozen broadcast and new media properties. They include CNBC’s Fast Money and Closing Bell, as well as DylanRatigan.com, which is home to his podcast, “Greedy Bastards Antidote.”
Ratigan left as host of Fast Money in 2009, provoked by outrage over the government’s handling of the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, he has dedicated his work to launching platforms that engage and debate the U.S. government on policy, while opening the door for millions to learn more about money’s often poisonous role in our democracy. His first book, Greedy Bastards, which will be released on January 10, 2012, details this broken system, and more importantly, illustrates how fixing these problems will release a renaissance of growth and innovation.
Since late September 2011, more than 300,000 people have pledged support, millions of dollars have been raised, and an organization with a staff of a dozen people has been formed under Ratigan’s leadership to pursue the singular objective to pass a 28th Constitutional amendment to separate business and state.
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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.
Given the gravity of the subject, you'd expect this to read like a sermon whereas the style is far more like a Rolling Stone magazine piece. There's good use of supporting statistics and evidence (without getting too dry), some interesting synonyms and diagrams and most importantly each chapter ends with recommendations about what can be done to fix these massive problems.
Overall, this is a first-class book that should be at the top of reading list for Americans in 2012. My only caveat is that I wish I'd bought the hardback rather than the Kindle version, since the diagrams can be hard to see fully on screen compared with the print version.
Since the days of John Winthrop Americans have prided themselves as being exceptional, a city on a hill; or in Ronald Reagan's terms: a "shining city on a hill." Americans have always thought of themselves as best in everything and no matter what we do we are still the best. It is a state of dreaming innocence - that what we do is always right and best.
The American Dream to make money and be free to make as much as we can through hard work is a part of the American culture as well. The idea that making money is "good" and now "legal" as Gordon Gecko states is part of a problem, not a means to a solution. It has created in Ratigan's terms "Greedy Bastards" who are sucking America dry. With America no longer one in very few categories (except perhaps incarceration rates) it would do well for all to pay attention to Ratigan. We cannot cure the disease until we diagnose the problem. Ratigan believes that we must look at new models in banking, trade, health care, education, and energy: not an easy thing to do when you think you are already the best in all these categories.
Ratigan,fortunately, does not stop at diagnosis. He offers prescriptions as well, prescriptions received by the best and brightest in various fields. Will the prescriptons work?? Only if implemented would we find out. Then when problems arise, as they surely will, we can offer improvements.
If for no other reason I think this book is necessary reading for the average person. It is not too deep. It is easily understood. It is quite readable. It goes to the heart of many of our modern day problems. The solutions are worth contemplating. If for no other reason I recommend this book.