With gas prices reaching all-time highs and an economy that is recovering all too slowly from its 2008 tailspin, the question of how we got into this mess still does not have an entirely satisfying answer. One trenchant analysis of this situation comes from intrepid Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi, well known for his in-depth Wall Street dissections and caustic (yet coffee-spittingly funny) attacks on political and economic elites. His latest book, Griftopia, looks at the current downturn and fearlessly points the finger at those whose reckless and self-absorbed behavior resulted in the loss of jobs and billions of dollars in investment and retirement funds for millions of working-and middle-class Americans.
Taibbi links the meltdown at least in part to the actions (and inactions) of longtime former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, a Reagan appointee and devotee of libertarian author Ayn Rand. It is Greenspan's policies that permitted the kind of high-stakes wheeling and dealing pervasive on Wall Street, using complex and unregulated financial instruments that filled the coffers of large investment banks but bankrupted pension funds, individual 401ks, and communities. As a result, retirees are forced into poverty and towns and cities find themselves having to sell off valuable long-term assets in order to cover short-term budgetary deficits.
Politicians both Republican and Democratic receive due dressing-downs from Taibbi, who is known for his over-the-top and often profanity-laced tirades. Not for the faint-hearted, Griftopia will have you both pounding your fist in anger and doubled over in laughter, often within the same sentence.
Submitted by Brett @ Washington Park