I'm a bit late getting to the party celebrating this latest work of Thomas Frank, author of What's The Matter With Kansas?, and the fault is entirely mine.
Pity The Billionaire: The Hard Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right is not a large book, nor is it a hard read. It is a concisely detailed look at the events and processes by which the American economy was toppled from within, despite the legal system intended to defend it from predation. There is so much detail that I was reminded every few pages about the anger and frustrated helplessness I feel each time these predatory bunco artists take it upon themselves to assault the economic security of the middle class, and then brazenly blame us for allowing them to do so with impunity. I would have to put the book down each time I felt the rage building, which caused me to take far more time to finish reading the book than a review should normally take. For this I apologize to Henry Holt & Co.
The fact that Pity The Billionaire evokes these strong feelings in me must be seen as a measure of the voluminous study that Thomas Frank put into this effort. Well-researched, amply footnoted, and provided with a plethora of supporting links, the book is a must-read for the historians who will one day attempt to explain just what happened to the United States during the Great Recession. Step by painful step, Frank recounts the process by which the economy was subverted for private gain as the defense stood by watching.
Frank also covers the rise of the Tea Party, the masterful manipulation of the common folk, directed by the "conservative" media to rise up angry and take action to prevent governmental relief against the very predations the Tea Party railed against in their rallies. This was accomplished in part by the co-option of the tactics of Saul Alinsky, which had proven very successful during the 1960s political movement to mobilize large numbers of people in opposition to the Vietnam War and racial bigotry. These successful tactics remain viable. We currently see Newt Gingrich using Alinsky against his liberal self as Newt campaigns for the primary votes of Florida, a pertinent example of the assertion Frank makes about the misuse of populism being levied against an aroused populace. Liberal strategies are thus being used by the "conservatives" to ensure against the rise of a new liberal opposition to the greedy corporatism which has brought the national economy to the edge of collapse.