July 8, 2011


I just finished reading the well-researched, often profane, and supremely eye-popping book from Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi which he calls "Griftopia".

Wow. Just...wow.

A lot of this book is about stuff that we may have already heard rumors and half-baked reports about. What Taibbi has done is to pull together all those rumors and facts and weeded through them for their underlying morsels of truth. He has taken research and reporting and woven a fact driven account of the intentional and ruthless ripping off of this country over the last twenty to thirty years.

So why should you read this book? I dunno, if you wonder at all about how we got to the crash of '08, or why gas prices keep balooning, even though there is no shortage of supply. What is "speculation" and why is it suddenly responsible for gas price increases? How do "Hedge funds" work and why all of a sudden do they earn so much freaking money? What is this dismantling of the regulatory environment that we keep hearing about, and exactly who is behind it? Sounds mind-numbingly financial and, well, boring doesn't it?

It's not. In fact it's a riveting read. Taibbi manages to get the interviews, pull together the documentation, and interpret the results in a manner that's as easy to read as, well, Rolling Stone. And yet, damn, I can't help but wonder how it is that a reporter for a fan-mag ends up writing about some of the biggest financial and political frauds in the history of the country.

Simple. Taibbi was assigned to follow the '08 election campaigns for the paper. In doing so, he heard and saw things that surprised him and piqued his curiosity as a reporter. Stuff that other, more mainstream colleagues knew, and in some cases, joked about. He decided to investigate further, and Rolling Stone encouraged him in doing so. None of the big outlets that we depend on for our news would dare touch it. They depend on the perpetrators either directly or indirectly for their revenue. Rolling Stone suffers from no such constraints. Again, our much vaunted Fourth Estate has abandoned it's mission of reigning in the more egregious violators in our government and industry.

The truly gut wrenching part of the whole picture is that all Americans should be screaming bloody murder about the crimes that have been, and are still being committed. Our courts should be fully occupied with bringing the people that wrecked the world's economy to justice and returning the stolen trillions(yes, that's trillions!) to the victims. Instead, not only have the criminals been given a free pass and a bailout, but they are still doing the same legalized roulette at the expense of taxpayers. Then they are given tax breaks for doing so.

Pick up a copy of Griftopia. Or go down to your local Library(remember what those are?) and check it out. It's a great read. In fact, it should be required reading for high school kids.

Oh, and here's a link to Taibbi's blog

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