Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle…

Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of… (2012)

by Thomas Frank

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2101355,654 (3.52)3
Recently added byOrsh, private library, csherbak, adamren, ASIJ, AllInStride, johnboles, DEE.TRIVEDI, Newspapers

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
LIghtweight but probably perceptive, and sometimes entertainingly sarcastic, rant. ( )
  themulhern | Feb 27, 2015 |
Thomas Frank explores the ways in which the crash of 2008 and ensuing great recession failed to lead to a populist revolt against capitalists nor for greater government intervention into the economy, as it has in past recessions. In fact, we got the Tea Party instead where the government was blamed for over-regulating business and banking instead. Frank examines the common explanations for the rise of the Tea Party, dismisses them, and proposes the long growing movement that paints capitalists as victims of government overreach drawing from the works of neoliberal economists and Ayn Rand. It's all very interesting, and well-composed, although nothing I've not read before. My favorite part of the book turned out to be the last chapter where Thomas Frank condemns the Democratic Party for failing to have any populist ideology to counter the right, nor drawing on what made them successful in past recessions, while at the same time maintaining cozy relations with Big Business. The Democrats failure to act on the historic principles of their party makes it somewhat plausible that they can be blamed for being affiliated with the banks that bankrupted the country while at the same time too strictly regulating those banks. ( )
  Othemts | Oct 12, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is not enjoyable. The narrative is full of gutter-level abuse flowing from Thomas Frank's rage over the bailouts. Only in Chapter 10 I think, Frank exhibits some coherence where he observes Obama no different from Wall Street.

Some notes:

1. No mention of how oil prices started the crisis.

2. End times scenarios fair enough and seems to recognize lean years follow fat years naturally, but seems irked by how some escaped in the bailout.

3. Financial derivatives are truly innovations and genuine markets for these develop, succeed, or fail like any other markets, but the book doesn't seem to appreciate this.

4. Mortgage industry serves a real need in the economy and the abuses chosen are not representative of the industry, , nor does it sufficiently detail the complexity of the mortgage industry and history that justified the bailouts.

5. Why bubbles are not ordinary if caused by financial innovation? They are as legitimate and ordinary as bubbles caused by industrial innovation (fibre optic for dot.com).

6. The conservative response is not unique, it is a response to left wing excesses. There cannot be any innovation in the economy without private capital. The book doesn't make a distinction between agents or inside traders who were the main culprits, the innocent outsiders who get trapped, and genuine private capital who had no part in the abuse, as it would have been detrimental to their own wealth.

7. The non-linear dynamics and complexity of the economy escapes the author's 'straight cause and effect' logic.

8. If both republican and democrats were complacent during boom years and naturally driven to innovation, then what we can on do now is to learn from experience and bring about corrective measure to curb abuse, such as imposing automatic limits which kick in during boom times.

9. 'Financial establishment' is not one big monolithic beast but and complex set of memes and heterogeneous agents whose dynamic organization as private markets is the epitome of human civilization, productivity. Correctly, I think Hayek termed it an utopia, alluding to Marx's own utopia and Darwinian evolutionary processes.

10. If the bailouts had not been done, we would have slipped into a true depression.

- MK. ( )
  janickg | Apr 15, 2014 |
Shallow (left-wing) criticism of bankers, politicians and in general the politics of the American recession. There are valid points there, but the author is not likely to convince anyone with his hysterical account (and voice-I listened to this as an audiobook). ( )
  ohernaes | Jan 31, 2014 |
This argument demonstrates the power of the Tea Party Movement and their right wing allies. What is happening to the United States is a major decline with the wholesale shift of wealth to the upper classes at the expense of the middle class. Poverty is increasing with a decline of governmental programs. It is directly attributable to a weak Democratic Party and the lock hold on the legislative process by the Republican Party. This is a tragedy. ( )
  phillund | Aug 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
US-Analyse "Arme Milliardäre": Wie Barack Obama die Rechte stark macht - "Michael Moore für denkende Menschen": Mit polemischer Schärfe versucht der Historiker Thomas Frank in seinem neuen Buch "Arme Milliardäre" zu erklären, warum ein Gutteil des US-Wahlvolks gegen ureigene Interessen stimmt, analysiert dabei Obamas Fehler - und nimmt Romneys Vize ins Visier.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
Pity the Rich Men/God wants to love them even more/Glenn Beck told them so

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805093699, Hardcover)

Amazon Exclusive: A Conversation Between David Sirota and Tom Frank

Journalist and Back to Our Future author David Sirota interviews Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas? and The Wrecking Crew, about his latest book.

David Sirota: Do rich people in America genuinely feel persecuted, or are their requests for pity a political ploy to combat their critics?

Tom Frank: Well, we’re talking about something that’s self-evidently preposterous. The phrase “Pity the Billionaire” is the absurd but inevitable end-point of the present conservative argument. The book is about people trying to depict themselves as the victims of a situation where they are manifestly not victims: imagining that corporate enterprises are ground under the iron heel of an over-regulating government, that banks were forced to issue the loans that puffed up the real-estate bubble, that taxes are by definition onerous and thieving, that businesspeople are all, as a rule, hard-working, unassuming, and straight-shooting—and that they have risen up righteously in a great strike, like in Ayn Rand’s and John Boehner’s fantasy.

Sirota: Why has the economic crisis resulted in a rise of conservative economic populism rather than progressive populism?

Frank: Because conservatives got there first with the most money.

Remember, the right has been “populist” for a long time now, raging against this educated elite and that. Populism is a language and a style that the conservative movement is comfortable with. It wasn’t hard to turn a well-funded, well-organized movement already accustomed to thinking of itself this way into a protest movement for hard times.

Of course, this involved the swiping of a whole range of traditional left-wing ideas and symbols, everything from the exaltation of the strike to the notion of a despicable “ruling class.”

The other side of the question is, why weren’t the liberals there to contest this larceny? Where was the left-wing populist movement? Occupy Wall Street didn’t turn up until three whole years after the September ‘08 crash.

The answer to this, I’m afraid, is that genuine populist movements don’t just spring up overnight, in the way the Tea Party did. They come together slowly. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, which is the traditional home of working-class movements, has grown very uncomfortable with populism. They don’t like it, they don’t trust it, they sure as hell don’t know how to talk it. The Democratic Party more and more sees itself as the party of conscientious professionals—of bankers who are socially liberal, for example—and not as the party of working people.

Click here to read more of the conversation

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From the bestselling author of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" comes a wonderfully insightful and sardonic look at why the worst economy since the 1930s has brought about the revival of conservatism. Frank examines the peculiar mechanism by which dire economic circumstances have delivered wildly unexpected political results.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
51 wanted4 pay4 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.52)
1 1
1.5 1
2 3
3 11
3.5 7
4 14
4.5 1
5 5


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

Pity The Billionaire by Thomas Frank was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,958,727 books! | Top bar: Always visible