Sunday, January 20, 2008

Free Lunch

I've heard interviews with David Cay Johnston on Bill Moyers, Fresh Air, Democracy Now--all my usual and more or less trusted news programs. The basic argument of his book, if you haven't also heard it already, is that US government subsidies ostensibly designed to benefit the poor (by stimulating business in low income communities etc) are mainly benefiting the wealthiest individuals and corporations which are in a position to understand and take advantage of the 'incentives' they offer. He names and nails Warren Buffett (I was sorry to find this out), Donald Trump & George Bush (no surprises there, except in the degree and specificity of their iniquity).

I'm linking a few of the interviews here, including one from the libertarian Reason. I tried to find a link to the book but the closest I could find was Amazon's site. Not even a publisher's squib.

I'm being overly and unearnedly squeamish but decline to link to Amazon out of exaggerated respect for Johnston, the book and the point. Do take a look or listen at one or another of the interviews if you have somehow managed to avoid the wall to wall coverage until now.

He seems to be tracing the money trail in some very useful ways, but I was disappointed that he failed to draw the most obvious and well documented conclusion of his research: that late/global capitalism depends on such collusion between the government & private sectors.

Worse still:

"But I have no objection to people getting wealthy. Just get wealthy off hard work and enterprise, not getting government to pass rules no one knows about that reach into my pocket and take money out of it."

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