15 April 2011

Book 15 of 2011

Finishing this at 12:45am when I was in that in-between time of insomnia giving in to sleep was not the best idea, but that's what happened.

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

A contributing reporter for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi explores the root causes of why the economy collapsed back in 2008, how it wasn't the first time that the "bubble" burst and how the origins of our delightfully corrupt government and even more corrupt banking and corporate systems became so intertwined. There are seven chapters, each one dedicated to a different factor of the depressed economy: the Tea Party's outrage, Alan Greenspan's idiocy and incompetence, the mortgage and commodities crisis, the outsourcing of our national resources, healthcare reform's terrible implementation, and how Goldman Sachs is filled with greedy jerks who don't realize that they're greedy jerks.

Taibbi goes into great detail to explain the complex system of economic voodoo that created the "too big too fail" banks and attempts to boil it down as thoroughly as he possibly can. Unfortunately, bankers have made the entire process of understanding so labyrinthine and confusing that it's nearly impossible to fully comprehend it without the benefit of a college degree in screwing people over. But, basically, that's what it amounted to: the banks played a shell game and gambled with the real wealth of everyday schmucks while looking out for their own bottom line despite knowing full well the damage they were doing. When that wealth disappeared due to their own greed, the bankers had the government bail them out because the latter feared that to not do so would cause more damage.

This is a book that inspires nothing but impotent rage. Here are all of these wealthy beyond all reasonable measure jerks that created a situation they knew could not last and would have nothing but negative consequences for the whole of the population, and, because it would net them a few extra million dollars, decided to do it anyway, justifying it in true Randian fashion of "Well, I'm going to be fine." It's probably not good for my blood pressure to read books like this, but I feel stupid if I don't at least make the attempt to keep myself informed. Unfortunately, nothing ever changes. The United States government implemented changes to the regulatory system in the 1930's to prevent this stuff and it's the constant battle to undo the safeguards in the economic system that hard-working schmucks like myself and my parents and everyone else are losing on a consistent basis that makes me and so many others angry and without any avenue of recourse. Why aren't people rioting in the streets of everywhere when things like this happen? Is society now so insulated and distracted by social media and gadgets and trying to make sure they have food in their bellies to know that our way of life is threatened, that the middle class decimation is close to the point of no return?

See? Impotent rage.

On a very petty level though, Taibbi does call Ayn Rand ugly and it made me laugh. She was quite the handsome woman.

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