Saturday, December 18, 2010

Taibbi Exposes the Long Con

The con, briefly: economic bubbles are the intentional creation of corporations intending to bloat their earnings and enrich their boards at the expense of us who pay taxes or into pension funds, as our taxes are used to bailout the companies after their brazen behavior cripples themselves and the financial markets in which our pensions are invested.

Matt Taibbi provides convincing evidence of this in Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con that Is Breaking America.  We know a good portion of the summary is true, economic bubbles have occurred and caused havoc on financial markets and our lives, but Taibbi sees in these bubbles a pattern of intention, where big banks like Goldman Sachs have cheated in order to earn more money faster and have little fear of damaging their businesses thanks to a federal bailout safety net. 

Also, we put their former employees in charge of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, and when I saw we, I mean Democratic and Republican presidents and congresses.  Mr. Taibbi explains that this is an issue to all Americans perpetrated by those from either party, even during election seasons when we and our media are obsessed with immigrants and negative campaign ads.

I don't want to make Griftopia sound boring--it's not at all dry.  Taibbi's outrage-filled narrative of events is readable and often humorous, but it's a dark, bitter sort of humor.  You may enjoy greatly the ridicule he heaps on Chicago Mayor Daley for leasing the city's parking meters to some Abu Daubi conglomerate for 75 years at one-fifth of the value those meters would have brought over that time period until you remember that you can't get free parking up there on Sundays or holidays because this private company says so.  Or that the city now has to pay this company in order to close streets for festivals--you know, some sort of fair reimbursement for the loss of funds to their parking meters. 

Laugh and cry and rage and laugh some more with Matt Taibbi's Griftopia--request it today!


Bradley Bourbonnais said...

Readers of Rolling Stone magazine will be familiar with Taibbi's engaging political writing. I enjoy his regular skewering of Wall Street and Big Business, but I sometimes hesitate to accept everything he says at face value. His "vampire squid" description of Goldman Sachs was one for the ages, but he sometimes appears to be a rather mercenary journalist always seeking his next big meal ticket (and perhaps a steady cable gig).

Brian said...

I can definitely get that. In fact, I almost quit reading the book in the second chapter (called The World's Biggest Asshole, referring to Alan Greenspan), due to his editorializing about Ayn Rand. He's much better building a case using testimony and numbers than he is at imitating extremist opinion-news personalities.

The book is entertaining and does contain some facts, but I agree that readers should know that his treatment is not unbiased and could be driven by ambitions like those you mention.