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Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the… (edition 2012)

by Charles H. Ferguson

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692173,491 (3.88)9
Member:Miro
Title:Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America
Authors:Charles H. Ferguson
Info:Crown Business (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:american literature, government, corruption

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Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America by Charles H. Ferguson

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In this first rate book Charles Ferguson explains how America went from the worlds dominant economic power in the 1950/60`s to its present deficit ridden, broken and conflicted state.

He shows that there are a lot of reasons and the book really shines in covering the whole story rather than focusing on individual issues. I found more specialized reading in for example, "All the Devils are Here" by McLean & Nocera (a deep analysis of the sub-prime story), or "Griftopia" by Taibbi (better on some special interests - particularly the health care lobby) or "It Takes a Pillage" by Prins (very good on the legislative enabling of the new millennium bubbles. ie the removal of Glass Steagall and the SEC approval of 30:1 leverage) but Ferguson is better for an overview.

He clearly shows how new technology, generalized overseas outsourcing and the capture of both political parties by special interests have wrecked the United States economy for the 95% of people who do not benefit from these trends.

In fact he describes the American Special Interest Kleptocracy very well noting for example on P295 that "..... despite the fact that U.S. corporate earnings reached a historical record of 14% of GDP in 2011, federal corporate tax receipts were near historic lows, at less that 1.5% of GDP." really illustrating the American politics is nothing more than an entertaining puppet show with real power lying in special interest groups that successfully threaten and bribe both Democrats and Republicans.

In the chapter "America as a Rigged Game" he goes into this in some detail with his analysis matching closely the classic special interest text, "The Rise and Decline of Nations" by Mancur Olson, and on page 301 he further shows the futility of expecting "Change" by listing the key appointments of President Obama's first administration, most notably Lawrence Summers (hedge fund investment banker, Goldman Sachs consultant and wrecker of Glass Steagall), Tim Geithner (ex Kissinger Associates and protegé of Summers and Rubin at the Treasury as they enabled the bubble economy) with his assistants Mark Patterson (ex Goldman Sachs lobbyist), Lewis Sachs (billionaire hedge fund operator), Jeffrey Goldstein (private equity executive) and Matthew Kabbaker (Blackstone private equity executive), plus the new chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler (ex Goldman Sachs and active in the removal of derivatives legislation). And the list continues in the same vein.

There are (in my opinion) some weak points in an otherwise excellent book:

The author doesn't give much weight to the demand side of the bubble economy. When new speculative games arrive such as internet stocks or house flipping, the public always wants to participate with large amounts of borrowed money so in a sense the banks/Wall St/Federal Reserve are creatively fulfilling demand (while also admittedly causing it with low interest rates). There's a long history to this dynamic as shown in Edward Chancellor's superb book, "Devil take the Hindmost".

Ferguson could also have been stronger on remedies, the most notable one perhaps being an independent "Guardian" class of administration official who would be drawn from people trained in independent colleges with regard to the interests of all Americans, where general societal success measured by international benchmarks outweighs special interest profits. Commercials can continue being commercials but never in high government positions.

All the same, the book is highly recommendable and shows the extreme difficulty that the United States is going to have to 1) pay off its vast debts (probably never going to happen) and 2) get special interests out of its political system. ( )
1 vote Miro | Nov 17, 2012 |
Rating: 5* of five

The Book Report: The book description says:
“Charles H. Ferguson, who electrified the world with his Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, now explains how a predator elite took over the country, step by step, and he exposes the networks of academic, financial, and political influence, in all recent administrations, that prepared the predators’ path to conquest.
Over the last several decades, the United States has undergone one of the most radical social and economic transformations in its history.
· Finance has become America’s dominant industry, while manufacturing, even for high technology industries, has nearly disappeared.
· The financial sector has become increasingly criminalized, with the widespread fraud that caused the housing bubble going completely unpunished.
· Federal tax collections as a share of GDP are at their lowest level in sixty years, with the wealthy and highly profitable corporations enjoying the greatest tax reductions.
· Most shockingly, the United States, so long the beacon of opportunity for the ambitious poor, has become one of the world’s most unequal and unfair societies.

If you’re smart and a hard worker, but your parents aren’t rich, you’re now better off being born in Munich, Germany or in Singapore than in Cleveland, Ohio or New York.
This radical shift did not happen by accident.”

My Review: I am second to none in my passionate love for and gratitude to the United States of America for the astoundingly amazingly wonderfully free-from-want life I lead.

And as that life is, day by day, taken from me piecemeal by the rich, the greedy, and the stupid, I am going to shout and point and wave my arms a lot to get the attention of the few, the many, the unwilling or willing, to see if I can't effect some small change to build on.

Count on it.

This liberry book was a fourteen-day loan, and I've had it seventeen days. I couldn't read much at a time because it made me furious, hysterically angry, livid to the point of stroke. I am disabled by a chronic, genetically transmitted condition that causes severe and painful acid buildup on my joints and near areas that have tendons. (Check the photos on my profile...that claw-lookin' thing is my left hand.) I have tried for several years to get disability benefits so as to have health care again. And now, with a real shot at getting these benefits (thanks to the advice and assistance of an old and dear friend), I might at last be able to get prescriptions for the medicines that ameliorate the condition, given under regular supervision, to avoid the problem of renal failure that comes with the medication (not to mention horrible gastric consequences, which I just have to put up with).

And in this rich nation, would you like to know what the princely payout will be (assuming I succeed in getting on the dole) to me, to enable me to survive? A little under $1000 a month. Food stamps, $150 a month at most. Medicaid, which here in New York State is more generous than most places (for now...more on that anon.) Were it not for the charity of friends, not please be assured my family members, oh nay nay nay, never dare even to ask them for help (well, now, one aunt handed over $4000 as I was losing my house, which put off the evil day for several months). I live rent-free with my former partner. Will that last forever? No, it can't, and shouldn't.

And then what? I don't know.

And I am not alone in my predicament. I am, in fact, a reasonably common-or-garden recipient of the fucking that corporations and CEOs and banks are doling out to each and every one of us not in their club. It's not new, this phenomenon. It was for millennia the norm. Then, one day in 1773, a group of rowdy, angry, sick-of-it colonists in Boston (of all places) said “oh fuck you” to king and church and country. Go Massachusetts!

Now, 240 years on, the rotten sleazy fucks we kicked out of power are back with a vengeance, thanks to 1) greedy politicians, 2) evil, evil, evil preachers, 3) stupid, complicit conservatives and “libertarians” (aka the Authoritarian's Best Friends League), and last but not least the laziest, most astoundingly selfish population of “future millionaires” (tip: if daddy wasn't a millionaire, you won't be either, sure as the sun rises in the east) ever fattened up for the slaughter on the American Dream (for whom?).

No. I don't mean the immigrants. I don't mean the union workers. I mean you. The person who doesn't know who his/her state senator is. Who the county tax assessor is. Who watches fucking idiot-box crap and not presidential debates because it's too hard, it's boring, it doesn't matter anyway.

Welcome to what happens when you're not paying attention.

And you deserve it.

I, on the other hand, who have voted and shouted and waved my arms about this shit since 1980, do not. But here I am in the same goddamned boat as the lazy, the stupid, the religious, the conservative or libertarian. Is that in any way fair? No. It sucks wookie balls. (Nobody likes hair in their teeth.)

But still, there it is. Hate is written into state constitutions because the Jesus Brigade for Tradishnull Fambly Valyews (aka Focus on the Family, et alii) doesn't like faggots. State senators, the same goddamned fucks in the GOP who authorize spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on casinos, want to cut funding for public health. (Told ya we'd get back there.)

And this book details how it got this way, why it stays this way, and, in one short ending chapter, what possible means there are to combat it. I am not, by nature, an optimistic person. I sincerely believe that humans love one thing more than hate, and that's group hate. Food, sex, money...all down the list. Hate is the killing ape's favorite pastime. What else is fandom, sports or TV or celebrity? What else is religion, politics? So I expect things will get worse, because the haters like that. Everyone should suffer!

And so we do. In our billions, we suffer. Unnecessarily, inexcusably, preventably. And so it goes. ( )
10 vote richardderus | Jul 2, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 030795255X, Hardcover)

Guest Reviewer: Simon Johnson on Predator Nation by Charles H. Ferguson
Simon Johnson is coauthor of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown and White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters To You.

Predator Nation demolishes the view that the global financial crisis was merely some sort of freak accident. Charles Ferguson makes a convincing case that the world’s banking system was brought to the brink of complete collapse in 2008–09 by a virulent combination of unchecked greed and criminal behavior.

This is an epic crime story with an apparently clean getaway, courtesy of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Both presidents proved unwilling to hold anyone to account—or even to launch meaningful investigations.

Leading bankers walked away with billions of dollars in unjustified compensation. The costs imposed on the rest of us can be measured in the trillions of dollars.

Predator Nation provides a roadmap for prosecution, systematically covering the banks involved, the names of culpable executives, the obvious crimes, the precise laws broken, and the evidence hiding in plain sight. No doubt it will be widely ignored by our legal officials.

Ferguson’s points are also intensely political. Reckless behavior by bankers can be traced back to the bipartisan consensus around deregulating finance in recent decades. This result is a socially destructive industry with immense political power—and capable of defeating all attempts at meaningful reform. The continued predominance of rogue finance is greatly facilitated by its effective corruption of American academia and many so-called “independent experts” (documented in Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning movie, Inside Job.)

Big banks hold American politics in a death grip. To understand this—and to start to think about how to break this grip—read Predator Nation and give a copy to everyone you know.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:31 -0400)

Over the last several decades, the United States has undergone one of the most radical social and economic transformations in its history: Finance has become America's dominant industry, while manufacturing has nearly disappeared. The financial sector has become increasingly criminalized, with widespread fraud going completely unpunished. Federal tax collections are at their lowest level in sixty years, with the wealthy enjoying the greatest tax reductions. Most shockingly, the United States, so long the beacon of opportunity for the ambitious poor, has become one of the world's most unequal societies. If you're smart and a hard worker, but your parents aren't rich, you're now better off being born in Munich or Singapore than in Cleveland or New York. This radical shift did not happen by accident. Author Ferguson shows how, since the Reagan administration, both major political parties have become captives of the moneyed elite. The Clinton administration dismantled the regulatory controls that protected the average citizen from avaricious financiers. The Bush team destroyed the federal revenue base with its tax cuts for the rich. And the Obama White House has allowed financial criminals to continue to operate unchecked, even after supposed "reforms" installed after the collapse of 2008.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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