Lefty’s Review: Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That is Breaking America
This is one of those books that every progressive should read. Matt Taibbi, the author and also a contributor to the political section of Rolling Stone magazine has a gift at being able to make the incredibly ugly very easy to swallow. His mission with this book was incredibly ambitious – be able to take what is a machine so complicated that to identify all its moving parts is like trying to solve a calculus equation with a European see-and-say and make it all make sense.
The first thing it opens up with is showing that the Tea Party isn’t what any of us believed it to be. Taibbi put it rather poetically –
They’re fighting a 1960s battle in a world run by twenty-first century crooks.
One interesting point that he makes is that the difference between America and a third world country is that for us, our politicians put on this really extravagant show, with lots of bells and whistles. A typical presidential election cycle is nothing but a big performance. What’s more, the American people know this. They are fully aware of the fact that they are being duped. They just don’t care. Every year, a presidential election is more or less decided by who the public likes more. Who has more charisma. The informed public knows that none of the candidates are going to do anything, or at least not what they promise, but for some ridiculous reason, they keep hoping that they will. Meanwhile, the uninformed public doesn’t care. When you hear people say, “I don’t know that much about politics, but I’ll vote for George Bush because of his faith,” that tells you all that you need to know.
The ultimate tragedy of this country is that the presidential election, something that should be about issues and a lot of deep thought, is about entertainment. We know that it is a useless waste of time. So now, we just want to be entertained. We want to feel like we have been given something worth having. America’s leaders don’t care as well. They know we don’t, and they know we will just vote for them because that is how it’s always been done.
The leaders of this nation see the writing on the wall. The fact is that America is in trouble. But rather than try and help, they simply want to amass as much cash for themselves as they can and get while the getting is good.
Throughout the book, he looks into concepts like “bubble economics.” If you want to know what it is, read his book. There is a reason an entire book was written about this. It takes an entire book to explain. The machines that run this country are so convoluted, and this is no accident. Rather than try and do things secretly, our economic and political leaders have realized that they can simply make things so complicated, and the average stupid American won’t know what to think of it, and won’t look beyond the surface. And for those who would try, there is a mountain of information to climb, and most won’t even get close to the summit. It is a brilliantly engineered system.
The problem is that the system has become so complicated that we can pin the collapse of the financial market in 2008 on something they overlooked going wrong. Meanwhile, while the bulk of the public is looking to pin some rightful blame on the bankers for their role in all of this, nobody is talking about taking the politicians to task for their own role in making legislation that protects the privacy and interests of the financial institutions and Wall Street.
Another point he addressed was something that liberals across America are uniting to cheer, which is interesting to me – the Health Care Reform bill. One of the greatest cons in the history of this country, and a birthday present to the private insurance companies. Yet liberals are saying that this is a good thing. Talk about good marketing.
This is not a pleasant book. It’s not a book that at the end will leave you feeling good. I think it’s a great book, and definitely worth checking out for those who want to learn how the mechanisms of this country actually work, but once you understand that, you will find that you have a profound hatred for this country, and for the people who run it, because while you will work hard and try to make a good life for yourself, every single person that you elect is trying to screw you.
There is no party for the American people. Democrat, Republican, they are all the same. All sides are loyal to one group, and one group only – Wall Street. Once you understand that, and you understand that all politicians do is say they will do stuff, while meanwhile sucking from the tit of big money, you can realize just how pathetic this nation’s future really is.
America isn’t going to get better through traditional means. You cannot vote this problem out of office, because each person who will take that person’s place will be just as loyal to Wall Street as the person who came before. So this leads to the ultimate question of our times –
What can we do? What can any of us do, against the forces so powerful, and so uncaring, who feel no remorse from destroying neighborhoods and destroying families? What can be done? And perhaps the hardest question of all –
Is it too late?