A scathing portrait of an urgent new American crisis.
Over the last two decades, America has been falling deeper and deeper into a statistical mystery:
Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles. Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail.
In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where our two most troubling trends - growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration - come together, driven by a dramatic shift in American citizenship: Our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or poverty. The Divide is what allows massively destructive fraud by the hyperwealthy to go unpunished, while turning poverty itself into a crime - but it’s impossible to see until you look at these two alarming trends side by side.
In The Divide, Matt Taibbi takes readers on a galvanizing journey through both sides of our new system of justice - the fun-house-mirror worlds of the untouchably wealthy and the criminalized poor. He uncovers the startling looting that preceded the financial collapse; a wild conspiracy of billionaire hedge fund managers to destroy a company through dirty tricks; and the story of a whistleblower who gets in the way of the largest banks in America, only to find herself in the crosshairs. On the other side of the Divide, Taibbi takes us to the front lines of the immigrant dragnet; into the newly punitive welfare system which treats its beneficiaries as thieves; and deep inside the stop-and-frisk world, where standing in front of your own home has become an arrestable offense. As he narrates these incredible stories, he draws out and analyzes their common source: a perverse new standard of justice, based on a radical, disturbing new vision of civil rights.
Through astonishing - and enraging - accounts of the high-stakes capers of the wealthy and nightmare stories of regular people caught in the Divide’s punishing logic, Taibbi lays bare one of the greatest challenges we face in contemporary American life: surviving a system that devours the lives of the poor, turns a blind eye to the destructive crimes of the wealthy, and implicates us all.
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Capitalism and Democracy Collide
This is an interesting analysis that highlights the two divergent realities in the US. The way the author contrasts the legal treatment of corporations versus average citizens is unsettling.
The comparisons provided were very insightful. Consider HSBC admitting to aiding the drug cartels and paying less than a years worth of their profit while a citizen is criminally charged then jailed for merely possessing the products of the same cartel. This book gave me insight into the different levels of citizenship in the US the moneyed and the rest. My view of the SEC fraud enforcement strategy is forever jaded when I consider the welfare fraud investigator going through a single mothers underwear drawer accusingly looking for signs of wealth while the banking industry document their misdeeds in the courts with complex language that even the judges cannot often decipher.
Great inflection at the right moments, kept me interested.
The Power of Money
A Tale of Two Americas
I don't think love is the right word to use. I really appreciate that Matt Taibbi wrote this book to help illuminate the unequal application of the law in this country. Also, it helped me to have a greater understanding of the time leading up to the economic meltdown in 2008.
There were several moments - every time Mr Taibbi wrote about the African American men who were unjustly accused of a crime. I guess the one that stands out the most is when the men, riding in a Range Rover owned by one of them, were dragged out the vehicle by police while stopped at a red light. They had done nothing wrong yet it cost them both a year of their lives to get it all straightened out.
The police practice of just grabbing people off the street, throwing them in the back of a van and then taking them to jail was (is) motivated simply by having a quota to fill. It's like they think "oh, we'll just grab anyone we feel like and then sort it out later".
I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about the inequality in this country - regardless of their political leanings, The fact that CEO's, Hedge Fund Managers and the like can commit massive fraud and not go to jail, is just wrong! The whole attitude of "too big to jail" is a ridiculous notion. Sadly, since none of these fraudsters were prosecuted and jailed, there was no incentive for the banks and wall street to make any changes. I see another (perhaps even larger) crash coming in the near future. I predict it will happen just before the 2016 elections.