Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best Books We Read 2011

Kevin D.'s pick:

My favorite book of 2011 arrived just under the wire on our free advances shelf in November. As with Thomas Frank’s last book, The Wrecking Crew, I’m telling everyone to read his newest, Pity the Billionaire (available in January), a harrowing, scrupulously sourced and footnoted report delivering an incisive examination of, as he puts it, the “purified market populism of the right-wing renaissance.”

Frank offers astute insight into what motivates the naïve and xenophobic Tea Ninnies aiming to “take our country back,” fearing burdensome, invasive regulation toward modest small business owners thus rallying for toothless oversight by the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and SEC, much to the delight of fund managers at JP Morgan.

Frank delivers a seething survey of the “funhouse mirror of contemporary conservatism” where unions “oppress” workers and what’s left of the middle class became a cheering squad for paid-for politicians and the industrialist Koch Brothers, all aided by the stealth astro-turfing machinations of Dick Armey, and Glenn Beck’s socialist-baiting histrionics.

Democrats whistle as workplace unionism dwindles, while a bizarrely aloof President Obama capitulates and compulsively offers olive branches to Rep. John Boehner and his bullies.

The last, chilling, four-page chapter, “Trample the Weak,” foresees a future where the market-minded moneyed interests, no longer fearing incorruptible government agencies, are free to call highways and parks--wasteful subsidies, and FEMA and Medicare are just the unfortunates’ power grab from big government.

This is not bedtime reading unless you enjoy getting both fired up and terrorized before bed.

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