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.)
If youre concerned about congressional earmarks, stock options (especially backdated options), hedge fund tax breaks, abuse of eminent domain, subsidies to sports teams, K Street lobbyists, the state of our health-care system, to say nothing of the cavernous gap between rich and poor, youll read this fine bookas I didwith a growing sense of outrage. Free Lunch
makes it clear that its high time for We the People to stand up and be counted.
John C. Bogle, founder and former chairman, The Vanguard Group
With clarity, conciseness, and cool, fact-saturated analysis, Mr. Johnston, the premier investigative reporter on how industry and commerce shift risks and costs to taxpayers, sends the ultimate message to all Americanseither we demand to have a say or we will continue to pay, pay, and pay.
“If you enjoy learning about the dirty little secrets behind the ways powerful businesses make their profits, you probably will like this book.”
—The Washington Post
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.
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
is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter who has been called the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States.” 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 writes a column for Reuters. He also teaches at Syracuse University College of Law and the Whitman School of Management, and he was recently elected board president of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. He lives in Rochester, New York. Visit www.davidcayjohnston.com