Narrator: Thomas Frank
Title: Pity the Billionaire
Publication Info: Macmillan Audio, 2012
Previous books read by the same author: What’s the Matter With Kansas?
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.
Recommended books: The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History by Jill Lepore, and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) by David Cay Johnston.