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Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and StickYou with the Bill) Hardcover – Jan 1 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (Jan. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841913
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #734,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Johnston, a New York Times investigative reporter, has spent his 40-year career exposing collusion between government officials and private sector entities as they enrich the rich and ignore consequences for middle-class laborers and the poor. In Perfectly Legal, he focused on hidden inequities in the tax system. This volume is a broader examination of collusion and unfairness, ranging from subsidies for professional sports stadiums to secret payouts to multinational corporate chief executives. At the base of Johnston's journalistic indictment are the highly paid lobbyists working Congress, state legislatures, county commissions, city councils and government regulatory agencies. Johnston also cites the culpability of George W. Bush in his roles as professional baseball team owner, Texas governor and U.S. president, and targets well-known tycoons such as Donald Trump, Warren Buffett and George Steinbrenner as well as lesser-recognized beneficiaries who own golf courses and insurance companies and energy consortiums. Heroes appear occasionally, such as Remy Welling, an Internal Revenue Service investigator who blew the whistle on improper tax breaks for the wealthy and lost her job. Johnston writes compellingly to show how government-private sector collusion affects the middle class and the poor. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

In 1995 David Cay Johnston persuaded the editors of The New York Times to hire him to see if he could devise a new way to cover taxes, focusing on how the system operates rather than what politicians say about it. His work has resulted in shutting so many tax dodges, in pressing so many new laws and regulations and enforcement efforts that some tax policy officials now consider him, as one tax law professor put it, "the de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States."

He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his running investigation of our tax system and was a finalist for that award in 2000 and in 2003 for beat reporting and for national reporting.

In 1968 Mr. Johnston began his career when he talked his way, at age 19, into a job as a staff writer for the San Jose Mercury. When he left nearly five years later he was still its youngest reporter.

He was an investigative reporter for the Detroit Free Press in its Lansing bureau 1973-76; a reporter for the Los Angeles Times in San Francisco and then Los Angeles from 1976 to 1988; a reporter and, briefly, editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1988 until he joined The New York Times in February 1995.

He studied economics at the University of Chicago graduate school and at six other colleges, earning six years of college credits but no degree because he took upper level and graduate level courses almost exclusively.

Over the years Mr. Johnston's many investigations included hunting down a murderer the police had failed to catch, winning freedom for Tony Cooks, to whom a trial judge said "I believe you are innocent, but I sentence you to life in prison."

He was the first reporter to seriously investigate the Los Angeles Police Department, exposing mismanagement, inefficiency, brutality and a worldwide political spying operation. The LAPD now operates under the aegis of the federal government.

He helped save a third of a billion dollars from being snatched from poor children by Barron Hilton. He exposed misuse of charitable funds at the United Ways in Los Angeles in 1986 and Washington, D.C., in 2002 and exposed news manipulations at the most profitable television station in America, WJIM-TV, that ultimately forced the sale of that station and five others. He also broke the story that Donald Trump was no billionaire, but, according to his own documents, actually had a negative net worth in 1990.

His previous book, Temples of Chance, exposed the fraudulent way that New Jersey regulates casinos. It is under development in Hollywood as a motion picture about the characters he described in Temples of Chance.

Mr. Johnston lives in Rochester, New York, with his wife, Jennifer Leonard, and their two daughters. He has six grown children and four grandsons.


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AT BANDON DUNES, ON OREGON'S RUGGED AND REMOTE SOUTHERN coast, men at play pretend they're in the eighteenth-century Scotland of Adam Smith. Read the first page
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on May 14 2008
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to lose my lunch on the shoes of any politician or executive named in this book after reading what David Cay Johnston had to say. Unless you want to be cheated forever (and for more money), read this book and let your "elected" and "appointed" representatives know that you won't stand for it any more.

George Washington, as usual, got it right: If we allow political parties to exist rather than looking out for everyone's interests in a non-partisan way, the parties will sell out the public interest for pennies to get money to run election campaigns and conduct party politics.

It's popular now to say we need a change in Washington, a change that involves changing political parties in charge of governing. Wrong! Really, how foolish can we get? Can't anyone remember what Washington said?

In the meantime, you can read the excellent exposes in David Cay Johnston's book to help you realize that your Federal, state, and local legislators in the United States are selling out your and your children's interests to curry favor with those who will give them large campaign contributions. Yes, there's some corruption but mostly it seems to be related to wanting power and more power . . . and not understanding what the costs will be.

Once again, we see tales of how the fig leaf of "free markets" is invoked to put in changes that cause "rigged markets" with vastly increased profits.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By True North on July 9 2008
Format: Hardcover
The reviewer above eloquently sums it up as well as the excellent writing by the author.

Just remember, there are 35,000 corporate lobbyists in Washington influencing and stuffing dollars in many pockets and purses to curry favour to their companies and shareholders.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading this book I feel I have a better understanding of the meaning of CORPORATE WELFARE, and the unholy alliance between Big Corporations an corrupt politicians in the US. It seems they both are so corrupt and interconnected, with very rare exceptions. One guy is making the law today, and the next day he is the CEO of a corporation that gets benefits (tax cuts, subsidies, deregulation) from the law. I just wonder how much of that is happening in Canada? I bet it is happening, but no one is saying anything, why?
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Large American companies have taken over in Washington. Each chapter explains in detail how the rules have been rigged to benefit big companies at the expense of the ordinary citizen. The Fortune 500 are all now Corporate Welfare Bums!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alain Morin on Feb. 27 2009
Format: Paperback
Definitely, America is heading toward a total desaster unless there's a change of mentallity among the weathiest American, which I beleive will never happen. A major economic crisis is ahead and very soon, it will detroy the actual world money system. What will come next is slavery of the common American, probably the beast of Apocalypse.
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