Monday, April 30, 2012

"Greedy Bastards!" by Dylan Ratigan (2012)

When “they” say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, it’s probably because “they” don’t want you to read this one. Beneath its flashy cover, author Dylan Ratigan takes on the most complex issues which are currently ripping apart our economic system, and taking the middle class with it. From the deregulation of the banking system in 1999, and on through the “burst” of the housing bubble in 2007, he leaves no stone unturned as he explores the interconnection between nutrition, education and health care. And along the way he exposes the mismanagement of them all.

This is not just a book which gripes about where we are, and laments about how we got here. In this highly readable work the author gives the history behind each of the problems he notes. And then he offers real solutions to the problems, highlighting how things could be managed differently, and with better results. The problem really lies with the “Greedy Bastards” to whom he refers in the title. They are the insider traders, the Futures market, the banking system, and, of course, the politicians who all allow this to happen because they are, basically, greedy bastards.
With the book organized into 8 chapters; each with its own inflammatory title; the author takes on the government bailout of the banks, showing how we all have been saddled with a debt that is truly not ours to pay, and benefits only those at the top.
With incredible skill he draws the comparison between the “capitalists who make”, and the “capitalists who take”.  As an example he offers the distinction between Venture Capitalist who lends money to a firm developing a new cure for a disease. If he makes money doing that, he is a “capitalist who makes”, that is, one who benefits society. But if you use that same money to lobby for changes in government regulations, in such a way that allows other groups to invest in something that you know to be flawed in the first place, then you have crossed the line into becoming a “capitalist who takes”. Or, in other words, you are a greedy bastard.
Building upon this simple hypothesis, the author is able to extend that logic and reasoning into almost every area of our failing economy. Along the way he shows us how our elected officials continue to feed at the public trough, essentially devouring your money and work ethic. Filled with diagrams showing the failed cycles in which we find ourselves trapped, Mr. Ratigan is able to show us how changing direction in certain areas would have a positive effect on most of the ills which plague us.
Delving into the field of manufacturing, he takes the reader back to our own Revolutionary War to illustrate the importance of nurturing industry here at home, versus being reliant upon importation of the things we need. Alexander Hamilton saw this clearly over 200 years ago. Why can’t our politicians, and bankers, see it today? Is it possible that they really are the Greedy Bastards which the author makes them out to be? This is a thought provoking, and well researched, book which will make you think. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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