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Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)by David Cay Johnston
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 07:30 PM
Powell's City of Books on Burnside, Portland, OR
The issue of inequality has irrefutably returned to the fore, riding on the anger against Wall Street following the 2008 financial crisis and the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the superrich. How bad is it? According to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Cay Johnston, most Americans, in inflation-adjusted terms, are now back to the average income of 1966. Divided (New Press) collects the writings of leading scholars, activists, and journalists to provide an illuminating, multifaceted look at inequality in America.
Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling author of Perfectly Legal returns with a powerful new exposé
How does a strong and growing economy lend itself to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and economic fear for a vast number of Americans? Free Lunch provides answers to this great economic mystery of our time, revealing how today's government policies and spending reach deep into the wallets of the many for the benefit of the wealthy few.
Johnston cuts through the official version of events and shows how, under the guise of deregulation, a whole new set of regulations quietly went into effect — regulations that thwart competition, depress wages, and reward misconduct. From how George W. Bush got rich off a tax increase to a $100 million taxpayer gift to Warren Buffett, Johnston puts a face on all of the dirty little tricks that business and government pull. A lot of people appear to be getting free lunches — but of course there's no such thing as a free lunch, and someone (you, the taxpayer) is picking up the bill.
Johnston's many revelations include:
How we ended up with the most expensive yet inefficient health-care system in the world
How homeowners' title insurance became a costly, deceitful, yet almost invisible oligopoly
How our government gives hidden subsidies for posh golf courses
How Paris Hilton's grandfather schemed to retake the family fortune from a charity for poor children
How the Yankees and Mets owners will collect more than $1.3 billion in public funds
In these instances and many more, Free Lunch shows how the lobbyists and lawyers representing the most powerful 0.1 percent of Americans manipulated our government at the expense of the other 99.9 percent.
With his extraordinary reporting, vivid stories, and sharp analysis, Johnston reveals the forces that shape our everyday economic lives — and shows us how we can finally make things better.
"Johnston, a New York Times investigative reporter, has spent his 40-year career exposing collusion between government officials and private sector entities as they enrich the rich and ignore consequences for middle-class laborers and the poor. In Perfectly Legal, he focused on hidden inequities in the tax system. This volume is a broader examination of collusion and unfairness, ranging from subsidies for professional sports stadiums to secret payouts to multinational corporate chief executives. At the base of Johnston's journalistic indictment are the highly paid lobbyists working Congress, state legislatures, county commissions, city councils and government regulatory agencies. Johnston also cites the culpability of George W. Bush in his roles as professional baseball team owner, Texas governor and U.S. president, and targets well-known tycoons such as Donald Trump, Warren Buffett and George Steinbrenner as well as lesser-recognized beneficiaries who own golf courses and insurance companies and energy consortiums. Heroes appear occasionally, such as Remy Welling, an Internal Revenue Service investigator who blew the whistle on improper tax breaks for the wealthy and lost her job. Johnston writes compellingly to show how government-private sector collusion affects the middle class and the poor." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Bestselling author and acclaimed journalist Johnston shows how for the past three decades, the government began to offer favorable treatment to certain groups. But for every subsidy and regulatory change that helps one person, another pays the price.
Free Lunch answers the great mystery of our time: How did our strong and growing economy give way to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and fear for millions of Americans? Acclaimed reporter David Cay Johnston reveals how government policies and spending have reached deep into the wallets of the many to benefit the top 1% of the wealthiest.
He shows exactly who has been getting free lunches from the government?from $100 million to Warren Buffett, to $1.3 billion to the owners of the Yankees and Mets. But of course there?s really no such thing as a free lunch. The taxpayer always picks up the bill. With his in depth reporting, vivid stories, and sharp analysis, Johnston reveals the forces that shape our everyday economic lives?and shows us how we can finally make things better.
About the Author
David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, has been called the "de facto chief tax enforcement of the United Stated". His most recent books, Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch, were New York Times bestsellers. He was a reporter for The New York Times for thirteen years and now teaches at Syracuse University College of Law. He lives in Rochester, New York. Visit davidcayjohnston.com
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