Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right Hardcover – Jan 3 2012
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"No one fools Thomas Frank, who is the sharpest, funniest, most intellectually voracious political commentator on the scene. In Pity the Billionaire he has written a brilliant exposé of the most breath-taking ruse in American political history: how the right turned the biggest capitalist breakdown since 1929 into an opportunity for themselves." —Barbara Ehrenreich
"Tom Frank has the Tea Parties in his sights! Brisk and searing and deeply informed by the lessons of history (shocking notion!), Frank's latest guide for the perplexed is nothing less than a precious gift to us. Read it, and finally—You. Will. Understand." —Rick Perlstein
"Thomas Frank has crossed the Styx and returned to sing of the tortured, tormented souls of the Tea Party and their sufferings in the Socialist America they have conjured from thin air. This he does with grace, style and humor, which not all of his subjects share. Be glad that in this election year you can read Pity the Billionaire instead of turning on the television or the radio or your computer. Pity the Billionaire? Hell. Pity us all." —James K. Galbraith
“Thomas Frank is the thinking person’s Michael Moore. If Moore, the left-wing filmmaker, had Frank’s Ph.D. (in history from the University of Chicago), he might produce books like this one.” –Michael Kinsley, The New York Times Book Review
“A feisty and galvanizing book… This is the kind of analysis - historically astute, irreverent and droll - that makes Frank such an invaluable voice. As he's done in a series of perceptive books, Frank cuts through the partisan blather and explains how money and cynical ideas shape a certain kind of contemporary politics. "Pity the Billionaire" is further evidence that he's as good at this as any writer working today.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“An astonishing story…Frank is one of the best leftwing writers America has produced.”–The Guardian
“Thomas Frank writes English and not the chat of the pundits and mainstream columnists. He has learned things from Twain and Mencken, but the cartooning in this book is if anything restrained…The country is in suspense, from causes of which Pity the Billionaire gives a highly convincing account.” –Guardian Books
“A spirited, acerbic, stylish exploration of the Republican resurrection.” –Boston Globe
“Thomas Frank lays out with biting wit how today's conservatives co-opted that symbol and forged a pseudopopulist front to defend the enablers of market failure… A guide to help real populists elude their saboteurs.” –Mother Jones
“An insightful, bitingly humorous book.” –Kirkus Reviews
“No figure on the American left knows more about the American right than Thomas Frank: columnist, editor, and hawkeyed observer of conservatism high and low.” –Christian Science Monitor
“Frank’s wit is as sharp as ever, and his eye for detail and his ability to capture a scene reminded me of reading zoologist Dian Fossey on a group of strange political primates.” –Washington Post
“A road map for everyone who wonders, while watching the hodgepodge of Republican presidential candidates: How the heck did all this happen?” –Fortune
“Forget “What’s the matter with Kansas?” The question Frank goes on the road to investigate this time is: What the f**k is wrong with America? Short-sighted fiscal policies have tanked the economy Great Depression–style, millions are jobless, foreclosures are at record highs, and pizza has been declared a vegetable. Why aren’t the adorable heads of the conservative-right wingdings behind much of the mess stuffed on pikes outside the White House? Is a good portion of the country suffering from Stockholm syndrome? Did somebody put something in our tea? What, pray tell, are the victims of these catastrophic policies thinking as they stand outside Arby’s banging out “She’s a Grand Old Flag” on their tin cups? Read the book. Tom Frank, as ever, makes some wickedly clever observations and produces some surprising answers.” –Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
About the Author
Thomas Frank is the author of Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, What's the Matter with Kansas?, and One Market Under God. A former opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper's. He lives outside Washington, D.C.See all Product description
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Pity the Billionaire explains why, rather than a return to enlightened and effective policies of the thirties following the great recession, America has jerked even farther to the right. And as Frank would say, "The fault, gentle readers, rests with those who do the bidding of their fat cat friends -- that is, the Democrats." If you stand for nothing, anything, no matter how absurd on its face--and Frank points out how absurd is the populism emerging from the likes of Freedom works and Glenn Beck--will prevail.
Only a true idealist could be as splendidly cynical as Thomas Frank. While his prose at times is laugh out loud funny, beneath it lurks a most rare and admirable quality, the belief that words do matter and that standing up to the billionaires and their buds can return America to at least a modicum of compassion, fairness and equality. I am so grateful that Thomas Frank has not become so disheartened as to simply give up and go away.
Please continue fighting, Thomas, giving a voice to people like me who increasingly think, Why bother? That fighting the insane right with a flabby, corrupted political party that has long since lost its way is an exercise in self-torture. Perhaps it is. But so long as you keep on writing and keep on skewering our politicians and exhorting us weary liberals to keep on fighting, the least I can do is to embrace your grace and passion and tenacity with a measure of my own.
For the psychological/neurological underpinnings of the radical conservative mind, read some of George Lakoff's works, for example, 'The Political Mind'. Lakoff contends that the model radical conservative was born into a male-dominated and structured household ruled by a tough-love father, whose mantra is obedience to those above you in the social ladder, and unthinking acceptance of the wisdom of the free market.
OK, you are not a political junky. But, you must be puzzled by why so many Congressional districts have sent so many politicians to Congress whose sole function is to obstruct and destroy the machinery of government - except for its military and police functions, and its big subsidies to powerful corporations. It's rather like voting for council members running on a platform of hiring arsonists as firemen, and sadists and killers as policemen.
How your tax dollars are spent is important, of course. But - more important - our democracy is at stake. What we are rapidly approaching in the U.S. is a plutocracy of the rich, a kind of plantation society in which a few (the upper 1%) live in luxury doing nothing but watching their investments grow, while the rest of us slave in the heat and the dust of the cotton fields. We still have one person, one vote, so how did the top 1% manage to swindle so many votes for their chosen politicians out of us? You are almost surely among the victims, but have you also voted for your own oppressors?
Aren't we better than that? You can figure out the game we are in, and use the power of your vote to change the situation. It doesn't matter whether you are a registered Democrat or Republican - understanding the real forces that are shaping our nation, and how to deal with them, is an issue for us all.
But will you make the effort? The price is a few hours reading these books - check your local library, if your town still has one. Or look for electronic or used editions. However, let's not cheat Frank out of his well deserved royalties - buy a new hard cover copy and a few for your friends, if you can afford it out of your stagnant wages.
In fairness, again towards the end, Thomas Frank has some criticism for President Obama’s timidity and suggests that some things might have happened differently if different approaches would have been taken. Even so, his own diagnosis of the crisis is a bit too timid. He honestly believes that the 2008 crisis was caused by mischievous Wall Street traders taking advantage of weak regulations. That position ignores the elephant in the room, namely that, in the last 30 years, capital and trade globalization have hollowed US of middle class jobs, reduced the tax base, depressed the median income and created dramatic economic and social frictions for which the 2008 crisis is just one of the symptoms. After all, Wall Street traders were always greedy and will always be.
Overall a good and recommended read for people who have not read yet “What’s the matter with Kansas”