Wed 11 Jan, 2012 02:11 pm
Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry
by Dylan Ratigan
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Dylan Ratigan is mad as hell. Infuriated by government corruption and corporate communism, incensed by banksters shaking down taxpayers, and despairing of an ailing health care system, an age-old dependency on foreign oil, and a failing educational system, Ratigan sees an America that has allowed itself to be swindled and robbed. In this book, his first, he rips the lid off our deeply crooked system—and offers a way out.
This country, now more than ever, needs passionate debate and smart policy, a brazen willingness to scrap what doesn’t work, and the entrepreneurial spirit to try what does. Ratigan has compiled brash and fresh solutions for building a new and better America, and with this book he has started the debate America deserves.
With you, he wants to take back the country from the six vampires sucking this nation dry:
• A political system in which lobbyists write legislation, lawmakers place “secret holds” to create more pork for their districts, and money drives the whole process.
• A banking system that uses capital for speculation and debt creation, rather than productive investment.
• A “master-slave” relationship with our Chinese bankers, making our corporations and politicians complicit in a system that rigs our currency and leaves us with permanent joblessness and massive trade deficits.
• A health care system that is among the priciest and least sustainable in the industrialized world.
• An educational system that prizes prestige but produces mediocrity.
• An addiction to foreign oil that has sapped us of our willingness to innovate, made us reliant on inefficient technologies, and left us supportive of corrupt governments.
To combat these vampires and to isolate the systematic ways in which our once productive industries and our government have been breached, Ratigan does not offer a grab bag of flimsy suggestions or useless hot air. Instead he provides readers with a set of values that together form the answer for how each of us can not only understand what has gone wrong—but join together to make it right.
“This book might be the smelling salts that wake up America.”—Alan Grayson
“Greedy Bastards is superb. Dylan’s policy recommendations track with what the Committee for Economic Development has been saying on: health care, the federal deficit, corporate governance, education, a consumption tax, and campaign finance reform. His explanations are clear, and he nails health care with his criticism of the fee-for-service model. Greedy Bastards deserves wide readership!”—Charles Kolb, President of the Committee on Economic Development
About the Author
Dylan Ratigan is the host of MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show, an opinion-fueled daily broadcast program, and the podcast Radio Free Dylan. The creator of CNBC's Fast Money and formerly the co-anchor of CNBC's The Call and Closing Bell, Ratigan started his career in print journalism and rose to become the global managing editor for corporate finance at Bloomberg. He has worked as a regular on-air contributor for ABC News and published articles in newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, and the Huffington Post. His coverage of the Enron scandal at CNBC earned him journalism's coveted Gerald Loeb Award. Using the mantra "The truth will set you free; but first it will piss you off", Ratigan focuses on solutions to our nation's largest problems while holding the government accountable for its role in solving them.
January 10, 2012 By Erica D. Galusha "real girl, real world"
Just got the kindle version of this book and read it today. Overall, I thought it was well thought out, clearly displaying the current issues the country faces, providing examples, and offering solutions. I will give you some highlights:
Chapter 2: The Bailout- If you've followed coverage on the bailout, you know what happened- the Federal Reserve essentially handed taxpayer money over to the big banks, no questions asked, in order to bail them out of their bad investments (The Big Short and It Takes a Pillage are two great books that will provide more detail if you're insterested). The solution that Dylan offers here is to institute CAPITAL REQUIREMENTS. He sees this as the only way to ensure that the banks will use their own money for their schemes, rather than depend on the Fed to come along and bail them out with taxpayer money.
Chapter 3: Outsourcing: In an effort to attract foreign investors, China has devalued its own currency and made cheap labor available to US corporations. American corporations (Wal-mart is a big one) have set up shop in China, taken advantage of cheap labor, and shipped their products back to the U.S. (thanks to import taxes of 2.5% in the U.S., this is feasible. The goods don't stay in China, because the tax on U.S. goods there is 25%). Congress enacts trade laws that favor corporations (low import tariffs) rather than protect the American workforce.
Chapter 4: High Healthcare Costs: the U.S. has one of the highest healthcare costs and a lower life expectancy than other countries. The massive amounts we spend in healthcare detract from other important areas like education. We focus on illness, not prevention, not health. Health insurance companies charge outrageous prices, because they enjoy a MONOPOLY EXEMPTION that they have been able to maintain with lobbying, paid for by their corporate profits.
Chapter 5: Student Loans- we have crazy education costs- a "Debt for Diploma" system where students have debt but no jobs. The worst are for profit colleges (University of Phoenix) that get TWICE as much government money as other institutions but have lower caliber students who are more likely to default on their loans, because they either can't complete school or can't get jobs.
Chapter 6: Oil: Big Oil is bad for the environment, yet so rich from corporate profits that it can afford to buy up alternatives (see Killing the Electric Car). If we had to pay the real cost of gasoline (foreign wars, environmental costs), we would pay $10-$15 a gallon instead of $3-$4. We, the taxpayer, end up paying that difference.
Chapter 7: Corporations: Some really good stats here: in 2010, GE made a profit of $14.2 billion and had a tax bill of ZERO. They hired a team to lobby Congress for tax loopholes and then hired another team of accountants to take advantage of those loopholes- nice. In the 1950s, corporate taxes accounted for 30% of government income, today they account for under 7%. If this doesn't show you how rigged the system is in favor of corporations, I don't know what will.
Solutions: Ratigan offers many proposed ways to solve the above issues. Capital requirements for banks, stop China's currency manipulation, put more money into early childhood education, push for efficiency in the energy, GET THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS with campaign finance reform, and BLOCK THE REVOLVING door between Congress and the corporations (nothing like a high-powered corporate job after you retire from Congress- you only get this if you enact policies that favor the corporation of course).
Overall, a great read. I appreciate the shout outs to Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) and Elizabeth Warren- they have helped to bring many of these issues to the forefront. I learned a lot by reading this book- it is packed with great stats and stories that will make your blood boil (but at least he offers solutions). I hope that everyone reads the book and starts to realize that we have a bought government that no longer represents the people but corporations. Our current policies are extremely short-sighted and set up in order to further corporate interests and profit at the cost of our nation's long-term welfare. It's up to us to make our voices heard. I follow Ratigan on Huff Post, and signed his "Get the Money Out of Politics" petition- it's a small start, but I figure it's better than nothing.
While I agree with this, I have to wonder (having not read this book, I genuinely don't know) how achievable are his solutions by the little-guy (someone like me)? If they're targeted on the "Greedy Bastards" on the hill, these solutions won't see the light of day. At least not from everything I've been hearing.
Until we change how political campaigns are financed, nationalize the insurance companies, get serious about alternative energy and hang all the lobbyists I think nothing will change.
Im generally against this villanization of corporations. They may be the problem or part of it, but this doesnt means they are "evil" or caused this situation on purpose. The corporations are too busy competing against each other and staying alive and gaining money, all things they should do, to worry about whenever they are causing a negative impact somewhere. The government is the one supposed to put them on a leash and prevent them from causing damage.