BOOK REVIEW. THE DIVIDE: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. Finally, I get it! I’m something of a news junkie, choosing carefully and reading deeply. So it has been perplexing to watch unprosecuted criminality committed by the financial community over the past decade go unpunished. The excuses coming from our top cop, Attorney General Eric Holder, have been timid. A close look at the facts shows that these excuses are also lame.
But now, thanks to excellent research and storytelling by journalist Matt Taibbi, I finally am able to grasp what has happened. He makes a clear and compelling case that America now has two classes of justice: for the rich; and for the rest of us. No, I’m not charging class warfare! Instead, it appears to be a case of willful moral blindness. This is why a welfare mom who works a side job goes to jail for defrauding the government; but individual bank employees who lie to courts and steal from taxpayers don’t even get charged. Yeah, maybe the bank pays a fine, but no bank employee ever does a perp walk. Yet there are plenty of victims, and the suffering of private citizens and the dollar volume – are both huge. It is more than coincidence that thousands of illegal acts were done by nobody.
This book will open your eyes if you genuinely want to see how and where America has failed. But if not, go back to sleep; the revolution won’t be televised. Someday the nation will simply be gone. Justice is not the advantage of the stronger, as discussed in chapter two of Plato’s REPUBLIC. Equal protection (justice) before the law is our foundation. To return there, we need to look around, re-awaken, and acknowledge what is simply wrong and unacceptable. (Note: crude language abounds.) † end of my review †
FROM DUST JACKET, INSIDE FLAP: 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. [end paste of dust jacket quote]