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Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History Paperback – September 6, 2011
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A brilliantly illuminating and darkly comic tale of the ongoing financial and political crisis in America
The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn’t past but prologue. The grifter classâmade up of the largest players in the financial industry and the politicians who do their biddingâhas been growing in power, and the crisis was only one terrifying manifestation of how they’ve hijacked America’s political and economic life.
Matt Taibbi has combined deep sources, trailblazing reportage, and provocative analysis to create the most lucid, emotionally galvanizing account yet written of this ongoing American crisis. He offers fresh reporting on the backroom deals of the bailout; tells the story of Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”; and uncovers the hidden commodities bubble that transferred billions of dollars to Wall Street while creating food shortages around the world.
This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the labyrinthine inner workings of this country, and the profound consequences for us all.
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The narrative, which begins in St. Paul, Minnesota, ends up circling the globe with yellow crime scene tape, wrapped around the earth many times over. The crimes are hatched in the secret boardrooms of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful banks and in the offices of stockbrokers, speculators, commodity traders and insurance salesmen. The bodies are buried in the entitlement-vacation giveaways belonging to politicians (who are “made guys”), mob lawyers, bureaucrats and wise-guy lobbyists. Matt Taibbi takes the reader behind-the-scenes to the casino floor of the secret government, the REAL power in the United States where “crime” itself is the best description of government money can buy.
Now, there are plenty of victims in Taibbi’s crime novel, but there’s one aspect of political racketeering and organized financial crime that is glaringly missing in the story: Law and Order -- like the TV show. In “Griftopia” there are no arrests, no prosecutions, no convictions and no jail time. You won’t find that in THIS story! In many respects, Taibbi’s book is an anatomy of the “perfect crime” in which criminal masterminds repeat the same crime over and over again, with slight variations. Occasionally there will be a monetary fine here, an economic sanction there, a slap on the wrist and a promise of reform; but it doesn’t matter, because the stiffest penalties are simply the cost of doing business in America.
Mr. Taibbi takes to task newspapers; journalists; the Tea Party; Alan Greenspan; Ayn Rand; Presidents Reagan right through to and including Obama; Wall St. Ponzi schemes; the dot-com. and sub-prime mortgage bubbles; taxation and bailouts, the criminal fiascoes at AIG, Goldman "Sauron" Sachs, Morgan Stanley etc.; the 2008 inexplicable gasoline price hikes which had nothing to do with supply-and-demand; Florida's rocket dockets to deal with home foreclosures, and healthcare insurance cartels who are exempt from anti-trust laws. There's a lot of people to hate in this thing. If you don't step away from 'Griftopia' better informed and ticked off then there's a 99.9% probability you're one seriously dumb-as-dirt masochist.
Much like Pulitzer-Prizewinner-for-Beat-Reporting David Kay Johnson's excellent work ('Perfectly Legal,' 'Free Lunch,' 'The Fine Print',) Mr. Taibbi is a solid muckraking journalist who is smart, insatiably curious and knows how to explain issues in a clear, entertaining manner. Mr. Taibbi is so good, I'm going to be picking up his other works. It's a great way to become a better informed citizen and the ensuing anger will clean out the plaque buildup clogging your arteries.