Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Divide

Matt Taibbi has a new book out, and it looks interesting:
Taibbi wrote “The Divide” to demonstrate that unequal wealth is producing grotesquely unequal outcomes in criminal justice. You might say that’s an old story, but Taibbi believes that, just as income disparities are growing ever wider, so, too, are disparities in who attracts the attention of cops and prosecutors and who doesn’t. Violent crime has fallen by 44 percent in America over the past two decades, but during that same period the prison population has more than doubled, skewing heavily black and poor. In essence, poverty itself is being criminalized. Meanwhile, at the other end of the income distribution, an epidemic of white-collar crime has overtaken the financial sector, indicated, for instance, by a proliferation of record-breaking civil settlements. But partly because of an embarrassing succession of botched Justice Department prosecutions, and partly because of a growing worry (first enunciated by Attorney General Eric Holder when he was Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general) that any aggressive prosecution of big banks could destabilize the economy, Wall Street has come, under President Obama, to enjoy near-total immunity from criminal prosecution. It had more to fear, ironically, when George W. Bush was president.
Taibbi has committed some of the best acts of journalism out there on the predatory nature of our financial system, how the big boys rig the game for their own benefit (at our great expense), and how they keep getting away with it. The fact that he was doing this writing for Rolling Stone particularly makes me smile.

While I don't always appreciate Tiabbi's, shall we say, flamboyant prose style, he does a great job explaining very complicated financial issues in a way a lay person can understand. His articles are always very well-sourced, and he pulls no punches when it comes to identifying the greed-heads, scoundrels, and outright crooks masquerading as Masters of the Universe.

After spending many years focusing on how powerful financial interests have gamed the system, resulting in economic inequality equal to that of the Gilded Age, Taibbi now seems to be turning his attention on what that rigged system means for the rest of us. My guess is it ain't gonna be pretty.

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