Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, And The Long Con That Is Breaking America, by Matt Taibbi
This book is written by a moron. That may seem a bit harsh, but this book is a clear example of someone who is not self aware about their politics or the implications of their political worldview when it comes to the well-being of the United States or any other nation for that matter. Despite picking on some particularly easy targets of populist ire such as crony financial capitalists receiving bailouts and engaging in various acts of chicanery as well as mainstream Democrats and Republicans whose corrupt practices can be recognized in the passage of laws like Obamacare, the author fails to realize that he is part of the problem and not part of the solution. When a government demonstrates the persistent tendency to overstep its proper boundaries and functions and to reward winners and losers based on nepotism and cronyism, the solution to that eroding trustworthiness is not to make government more powerful, but instead to fight to keep it within tighter bonds so as to make its mischief less troublesome. The author recognizes that corruption and cronyism are a facet of the third world nations whose wealth is siphoned off by corrupt elites, but the author is not smart enough to realize that the socialist policies the author supports and the hostility to productive classes that the author engages in are themselves key elements in the creation of those failed states that we should wish to avoid becoming.
This book is about 250 pages long and is divided into seven longish chapters. The author begins with a discussion of the power of grifters in the Congress of 2006-2010 and the author’s paradoxical claims that the Tea Party and its brand of constitutionalist conservative populism is unnecessary in light of the massive grift and corruption of the Democratic-led Congress of that era (1). The author then proceeds to libel Alan Greenspan as the greatest asshole in the universe by discussing his transformation from a devoted Randian disciple to the head of the Federal Exchange (2). After that the author discusses the Great American mortgage scam that led to the Great Recession without managing to properly blame the failure of federal companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for their role in that scam (3). The author then blames various hedge funds for the commodities bubble that he finds in the same era (4). After that the author discusses the behavior of various mutual funds and their exotic mathematics that led to further bubbles (5) as well as the intense corruption involved in Obamacare that the author condemns for its obvious role in providing a subsidy to increase the profits of insurance companies (6). The author then looks at the importance of bubbles in contemporary tech stocks (7) before closing with an epilogue and a note on sources.
It is rather telling and unfortunate that the author has written a book about political economy with a disastrously poor understanding of economics and a hostility towards those natural laws and consequences that lead to the wealth or poverty of nations. The author seems to think that voting into power the supposedly well-meaning fellow travelers of the author will avoid the consistent problems and disasters that socialism of various kinds has led to around the world. The author seems to think that this time it would be different than it was before, and that the centralization of power even further into the hands of an admittedly corrupt government whose corruption the author details in spectacular fashion would have beneficial results in preventing the further political corruption of our country. It would be difficult to think of a less appropriate response to the crisis of our times than the author comes up with, but it is all the more telling and unfortunate that the author and others of his ilk appear to be the base of the contemporary Democratic party, which means that this idiocy is a political scourge that must be dealt with and not simply the sort of lunacy that can safely be handled by locking a few crazy people up in asylums where they can be of no harm to anyone else.