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Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians,…

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power… (edition 2011)

by Matt Taibbi

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Title:Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
Authors:Matt Taibbi
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2011), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This book is scarier than a horror movie.
  Stembie3 | Jun 14, 2015 |
To paraphrase Will Rogers, Taibbi explains the recent economic meltdown and bailout(s) in terms simple enough even an economist or banker can understand them. Although economists and bankers understand the new rules well enough; it's the rest of us who need to be brought up to speed as to how elite banks legally stole billions of dollars, and are continuing to get away with it. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Apr 2, 2014 |
Just astonishing. How absolutely screwed we are.

Taibbi might annoy you - he can be a bit dude-ish in his writing at times, merry with his hilarious teenager-esque spins on traditional curses ("douchewad" being my favorite) and quick to be hyperbolic when its suitable. But you cannot, simply cannot dismiss this book on those grounds. He did his research (boy howdy) and manages to parse the absolute horse manure that is our current financial stage to the point that a layman can almost maybe understand it if he thinks about it.
Yes, folks: this book requires you to think. Hard. Because you're not just trying to understand the complex legal and financial terminology being tossed around... but you're also trying to square your own finances. Square your own behavior. And that sort of ruthless efficiency at making everything okay is a problem for us humans - because that's how we got into this mess. We'll believe whatever someone who seems smart tells us - but if we used our brains even once, we'd've seen that we've been fleeced but good over the last 30 years... and that there might just be nothing left when they're done.

Much, much more at RB:

But most importantly? I implore you to read this book. It isn't about politics, it's not about left and right. It's about humanity trying to save itself from the vampire squids that are sucking every last drop of money from our pockets. ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
"Pointing at the sun while pissing on your shoes". A phrase from Ian MacDonald's Out On Blue Six to describe misdirection of the populace by the Powers That Be.

My feeling is that all Americans, whatever their political persuasion, should read Griftopia. Even if you are going to divide Taibbi's assertions by three, and take a third of what he says as true, there is food for thought here, no matter which way your political compass points. This is not a knee-jerk reaction against "the rich" as such, nor is it a rant against "welfare queens". It also dismisses Rand-ian pseudo-philosophy. What he is trying to do here is to strip away the concept that Democrats are automatically "good" and Republicans are automatically "bad" or the other way round. And the libertarian alternative really is no alternative - what the USA needs is more regulation, not less, of big business.

There is sympathy in this book for the legitimate gripes of both the left (such as it is in such a conservative country as the USA) and the right-leaning Tea Party - but what he is trying to do is to educate these groups, and swing their guns in what he sees as the right direction - the Wall Street bankers, and the government that they have bought and paid for.

The simple description of how Chicago car-owners have been betrayed by the city government, who sold off the parking meters and revenue from them to an Abu Dhabi-backed consortium through a layer of shell companies, who promptly proceeded to gouge the citizens, would have caused riots and possible revolution if it had been reported in the mass media.

As it is, I become more and more convinced that no US administration will ever repeal or change the 2nd Amendment - it's a sop thrown to the American sheeple to give them the illusion that they are free. In all other aspects, they are slaves to a few large parasitic corporations which don't even produce anything of value. "Vampire squid" is a very kind term for them. ( )
2 vote hugh_ashton | Apr 19, 2012 |
I am powerfully drawn to Taibbi’s writing, but I can only read so much at a time before his and my rage threaten to overwhelm me. Also, warning: I can’t overemphasize just how often he uses disability-related words to signify stupidity, evil, or general unworthiness as a human being. Nonetheless, I can’t stay away from a guy in the relatively mainstream media who is this angry about our current situation, and willing to call out specific people. He suggests that Tea Partiers have legitimate grievances about overintrusive local government, and have wrongly generalized that (with substantial assistance from powerful people with every incentive to help them do so), assuming that the government is to Wall Street what it is to Main Street rather than being a handmaiden of looting. But what actually happened and is still happening is complicated, and anti-intellectualism is a brilliant strategy because the Tea Party is “arguing against the very idea that it’s even necessary to ask the kinds of questions you need to ask to grasp bubble economics.” He makes a go of it, covering mortgage securitization (and initiation fraud), health care reform sold out to big pharma and insurance companies, and other consequences of corporate gorging on the 99%.

The version I read was updated with a couple more of his Rolling Stone pieces, and I hope this observation was prescient: “The vast majority of Americans are, I think, waiting for Wall Street itself to agree that it deserves to be punished or reformed, before calling for punishment or reform. But it’s never going to happen. I feel strongly that once more people realize this, that they don’t have to ask for Wall Street’s permission to be angry about what happened to their money and their mortgages and their credit ratings in the last ten years, the politics governing our economy will be altered.” He suggests that rhetoric and expensive lawyers have distracted us from what the people at the top are doing: stealing. People ask, he say, what good it would do to punish the people who tanked the economy. “[W]hen was the last time anyone stood up at a car thief’s trial and argued that jail time wasn’t warranted because putting the defendant in jail wouldn’t end car theft? We don’t make that argument because it’s absurd; that’s not how we measure justice…. If we force the people on Wall Street to live under our laws and our criminal justice system, who knows—they may even start to see themselves as citizens of the same country.” ( )
  rivkat | Nov 11, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
The shelves are full of books describing how Wall Street turned mortgage markets into a casino. Goldman’s dealings with A.I.G. have been probed in the pages of this newspaper, among others. What Taibbi brings is a broader context and his trademark snarky prose. He has written a polemic, a full-scale indictment of Wall Street and Washington, one that sometimes veers toward ranting, yet serves as a needed antidote to the more even-tempered but fatuous accounts already available.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385529953, Hardcover)

The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn’t past but prologue. The stunning rise, fall, and rescue of Wall Street in the bubble-and-bailout era was the coming-out party for the network of looters who sit at the nexus of American political and economic power. The grifter class—made up of the largest players in the financial industry and the politicians who do their bidding—has been growing in power for a generation, transferring wealth upward through increasingly complex financial mechanisms and political maneuvers. The crisis was only one terrifying manifestation of how they’ve hijacked America’s political and economic life.

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi here unravels the whole fiendish story, digging beyond the headlines to get into the deeper roots and wider implications of the rise of the grifters. He traces the movement’s origins to the cult of Ayn Rand and her most influential—and possibly weirdest—acolyte, Alan Greenspan, and offers fresh reporting on the backroom deals that decided the winners and losers in the government bailouts. He uncovers the hidden commodities bubble that transferred billions of dollars to Wall Street while creating food shortages around the world, and he shows how finance dominates politics, from the story of investment bankers auctioning off America’s infrastructure to an inside account of the high-stakes battle for health-care reform—a battle the true reformers lost. Finally, he tells the story of Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.”

Taibbi has combined deep sources, trailblazing reportage, and provocative analysis to create the most lucid, emotionally galvanizing, and scathingly funny account yet written of the ongoing political and financial crisis in America. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the labyrinthine inner workings of politics and finance in this country, and the profound consequences for us all.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:29 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Examines American financial, political, and media power and argues that the dramatic series of events that led to the financial crisis also resulted in a complete shift of power to the self-interested elite.

(summary from another edition)

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