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The Looting of America

© July 2009 Anthony Lawrence

Index by Subject

  • The Looting of America
  • Les Leopold
  • 978-1-60358-205-6

This book attempts to explain our economic problems primarily by using the analogy of fantasy baseball. That's a very good analogy, I think, and does help us visualize how a relatively small amount of defaulted mortgages turned into a multi-trillion dollar mess.

Unfortunately, the author has a very liberal slant that will utterly annoy and anger conservative readers. For me, it's right on target, but my conservative friends will see a lot to dislike. That's too bad, because the explanations of how all these mysterious financial shenanigans actually work is very good. It's the laying of blame that will cause anger in the conservative ranks - I may agree completely with his analysis, but nobody who likes Fox News will.

I wish he had avoided the politics and stuck with simple realities. It is undeniably true that the middle and lower class have lost purchasing power as money has flowed to the very wealthy. I don't think many conservatives will argue about that; the problem is that they see that as a good thing - it's the "trickle down", "a rising tide floats all boats", "concentration of capital creates jobs", "greed is good" mentality.

Of course they are right, at least to some extent. We need concentration of capital - some things just can't get done without it. Greed is good, at least when not carried to excess. But that's the problem, isn't it? Greed has been carried to excess and the disparity between the rich and the rest of us is far too great. Unbridled greed is what made this mess, and I think the author does make that argument very convincingly.

I think it's fairly easy for both liberals and conservatives to agree that putting purchasing power in the hands of the middle and lower classes is good. Certainly that's the goal in the "rising tide" theory, isn't it? Having a healthy working class lowers welfare needs, makes for more stable families, increases purchases of real goods and increases the overall tax take of governments. All that seems pretty obvious - where we get into shouting matches is how we should go about getting there.

I like the wage cap idea this author (and others) suggests. That says that no executive can be paid more than X times the lowest wage paid in the company (wages, benefits, stock options, bonuses - full compensation). Set X wherever you want - 50 times, 100 times - wherever you set it, the cap will have the effect of raising the wages of workers.

I realize that's bitter poison to strict conservative ideology. I also recognize the argument that such a cap might drive some highly talented people right out of the country. It may be a too simplistic solution. Fine - let's hear some other ideas - it's obvious what we have been doing is not working.

This is the dialog I am trying to have with my conservative friends. We have a mess, and putting billions in the hands of Gates, Soros, Buffet and the rest plainly hasn't done us any good - it has swamped boats rather than raising them. If we can get by the liberal/conservative blame game, maybe we can agree on some path forward that will perhaps improve things.

I certainly hope so. Oh, and sure, buy the book. If you are a wooly-headed liberal like me, you'll love it. If you are grinding your teeth at the mere thought of interfering with billionaires life-styles, this will be hard for you to stomach, but you may still find the explanations helpful.

No matter where you sit, please, let's try to find some common ground. It's our only hope.

Tony Lawrence 2009-07-03 Rating: 4.0

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Sat Jul 4 17:53:53 2009: 6608   BrettLegree

I'd like to read that book, because the same thing is happening here in Canada.

You can see the corrupt practices all around - it is even harder to swallow when it is being done by public servants.

Friar sent me this link today as an example.


Canada's much vaunted health care system is going down the toilet, and it is because of people like this.

My tax dollars and those of my fellow citizens in my province are paying for this person's salary and bonus.

We have been "rewarded" for her "excellent" service by longer and longer waits in our hospital waiting rooms and emergency rooms.

The bonus this person received after only *four* months of service at this post is greater than my entire annual salary, for dog's sakes. I am a chemical engineer, what the hell does she do???

Sat Jul 4 19:05:03 2009: 6609   TonyLawrence

Yeah, and we get to reward bankers for destroying our retirement funds, pensions.. it's time for change.

Sat Jul 4 22:57:42 2009: 6610   BrettLegree

The government already raped our pension plans here, so the banks didn't have to do that. The banks are working in their own strange ways, however, and every time it seems we turn around, there's a surcharge for something else.

More tax, I don't mind paying. Surcharges, I do.

Mon Jul 6 06:15:25 2009: 6613   drag

If you don't pay one way your going to pay another.

The USA government already controls and manages about 60-70% of the national healthcare system in our country. This is through the regulations and requirements (aka strings) attached to medicare and medicaid. It certainly has not helped reduce prices in or increase efficiency in any way shape or form.

In fact now doctors pretty much spend much more of their time filling out paper work then actually seening patients. It would be interesting if somebody actually did a study on how much hospitals and doctors actually spend on managing red tape, insurance, and other overhead not directly related to helping patients. I expect the number to be close to 60-70% of the price of your health care is just dealing with managing overhead.

And the banks also.. There are major USA banks that didn't engage in realstate scams. They didn't play games and sell bad dept to the Europeans. They didn't go out on a limb and give money to risky people. After the 'bubble' they were not losing money, people were not defaulting on loans left and right. They managed their businesses in a conservitive manner and should of been in a position to reap the rewards by having capital to buy up the cheap stock of their dying competitors and such things.

But instead they not only lose out on the short-term wealth that all those scams brought they don't get the bail out money. So due to intervention from the government bailing out their mismanaged competitors they get shafted coming AND going.

50 years from now the "to big to die" bailouts will be regarded as one of the worst cases of financial mismanagement in all of human history. Much worse then the realstate speculation that lead us to those bailouts in the first place.

Having the government step in and remove risk from markets is about the most stupid and inane thing they could possibly do. It removes ALL checks and balances from the system leading to massive mismanagement and waste.

Mon Jul 6 16:31:55 2009: 6615   TonyLawrence

Health care is horribly complex. Realistically, we'll never get a single payer system even though that is the only way we can control cost and quality at the same time.

That doesn't mean we need to give up. At the very least, people shouldn't lose everything they own just because they were unlucky enough to have a serious illness. On the other hand, it's plainly ridiculous to spend large sums to extend someone's life a year or two. Like it or not, we have to put a dollar value on a year of life.

Tue Jul 7 16:02:55 2009: 6620   anonymous

I found some common ground. It's where I am standing. All you have to do is move to the right and join me.

Mon Aug 3 19:38:20 2009: 6718   TonyLawrence

Actually "tax" is the wrong word. We're talking reparations. When institutions, and the individuals who run them, harm the great mass of society and profit wildly along the way, they should make restitution for the harm they have caused.



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