January 24, 2012

Review: Pity the Billionaire

Like most pundits and historians, Thomas Frank (What's the Matter with Kansas?) thought history was repeating itself in 2008; nearly everyone saw the parallels to the Great Depression, and sure enough, a Democratic president was elected. But the seemingly inevitable path of deficit spending to pay for unemployment benefits, to stimulate the economy and to save businesses took an unexpected turn. Suddenly, instead of being furious at the Wall Street insiders who milked the financial system to its max, many Americans began to be angry at the government for bailing Wall Street out. From there, it was a short step to being furious with the government for interfering with the markets at all. Rather than relying on the government to save them from the vagaries of the economy, as people did in the 1930s, many Americans started turning against the government. Tea Party rallies popped up all over the country.

Frank pithily criticizes this resurgence in the far right's political power, pointing out the fallacies and obfuscations of Tea Party views. He blames people like Glenn Beck for "muddling" the minds of Americans, but he also calls out Democrats for their lack of unified ideology and their unpreparedness to deal with this conservative counterrevolution. Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right is a quick and timely read, full of up-to-the-minute details on the country's political climate and the likely continuance of present political trends based on the current economic situation.

At NAU one of my majors was International Affairs so I took a bunch of European and International politics classes. But I didn't take many American politics classes, and I don't read a lot of political stuff these days, so I found this book quite interesting. It's a short book too; a nice quick read if you're trying to catch up on your political reading before the election.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Maybe. Unless she watches Fox News. Then it'll make her mad.

Do you read politics books? Ready for another election year already?

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.The cover image is an Amazon affiliate link.