Silver Spring, MD, United States | Member Since 2009
I've ended up listening to a number of books on the 2008 Financial Crisis including "All the Devils Are Here," "13 Bankers," "Griftopia" and tangentially related "No One Would Listen." I approached "Predator Nation" with the thought that I would not necessarily learn anything new, as I had seen Ferguson's documentary, "Inside Job." I found this an engaging listen although it does retread some of the material in ???Inside Job.??? Ferguson remarks that he wrote the book in order to make a sustained argument for prosecution of financial sector players. This part of the book was informative, but I gained the most insight with Mr. Ferguson???s broader analysis of the financial sector as parasitic and unproductive, and his weaving of issues like corporate governance and (mis)management, education, and money in politics gave significant insight into the past 40 years and the crisis. If you liked ???Inside Job,??? you will learn more. If you want even grander weaving of the ideas, I recommend ???13 Bankers??? and Kevin Phillips??? ???American Theocracy.???
This was a book I felt affirmed for myself a growing sense of "Question Authority" and "Free Yourself from Fear of Your Own Ideas." Christopher Hayes quickly reads through his own book about the "Fail Decade" (2000-2010) with the failure of intelligence with regard to 9/11, the press's failure in the run up to the Iraq War, Katrina, Enron, scandal in the Catholic Church, steroids in baseball, and the 2008 Financial Crisis. He describes how the Meritocratic Order has ended up creating an unequal game where those who achieve elite status rig the game to keep themselves there, get those who they want there, and make sure no one is held accountable for failure. He also charts its hypercompetitiveness and incentivized culture that encourage moral corrosion and narcissism.
Consider reading this book if you feel significant distrust of our systems or general unease about the current order. I feel I see the impact of the order around me. Anyone seen the child of a former employee get the intern job that makes it just that much easier to parlay into a real job? Ever read a memo or been to a meeting where it seemed like leadership could talk the talk, but not necessarily walk the walk, yet spent time celebrating its own accomplishments? Anger you to see a smart, highly educated banker who allowed derivative trading that bankrupted his company and resulted in a bailout NOT lose his job (and possibly not lose a bonus either)? That's not to say these children, leaders, or some bankers don't have merit. But rather do you feel you are part of a society that REALLY operates with equal opportunity resulting perfectly in equal outcomes? This book really made me think.
Hayes does offer a description of a solution, but he is a bit short on real world examples and applications of his idea for change. Still, this book was an eye opener. It freed me up to think and act a bit more on my own. Also articulately written with great diction.
This third book in the series continues in the same vein as the others with a straightforward mystery, nice characterization and love of canines. Chet as the narrator remains wonderfully executed and the reason to bring your ears to the book. He’s your typical loyal and happy canine with a hardboiled edge (nicely enhanced by Jim Frangione’s reading). He adds humor too with his longing to go on “wild goose chases” and his initial distrust of “bear claws” at the local doughnut shop. This mystery has Chet and Bernie searching for a missing circus elephant and her trainer. If you liked the other ones in the series, then you’ll enjoy another adventure with Chet. Definitely recommended for dog lovers.
I enjoy Thomas Frank???s mixture of contemporary politics linked to deeper history and his terrific wit. ???Pity the Billionaire??? follows on ???What???s the Matter with Kansas????and ???The Wrecking Crew,??? and continues his excellent streak. This is a short book on the Tea Party and its harnessing of the populist anger in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis for the good of free market economics. I laughed out loud at passages like: ???And harmless snakes have learned over the millennia to frighten predators by shaking their tails in the dead leaves. They are mimic rattlesnakes--not the real deal. Don???t be afraid. Go ahead and tread on them.??? He cracks that joke and then embarks on a razor-sharp depiction of how and why the conservative moment mimics other movements it disparages. Frank narrates quickly and with an occasional chuckle in his voice. His voice is different from the professionals, yet surely listenable since I have listened to parts of the book twice now. Recommended.
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