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]
There is usually an unspoken sociological law at work when it comes to crimes of money or crimes in general. If one is middle class, he or she has a fair chance of being treated justly or not. If one is poor making his or her status in society below average, the arrow pointing toward a punishment instead of mercy is more likely to happen. If one is up there in the high status realm, that person, (unless all the evidence is undeniable, and there are even exceptions to that), this person has a more than fair chance of a light punishment.
Our perceived status in the community and the larger society affects how we are treated generally and in the courts. “How can this pillar of the community be accused of this or that crime?” There is no equivalent statement about a poor person. Does the following sound real? “How could this unknown poor person in the community be accused of this crime?” Somehow, in our minds, the poor person sounds guilty to us. Why? Because most of us are affected by status, celebrity, and money.
I have seen this sociological law happen many times when it comes to beliefs about the paranormal. If a person of average or low status expresses his belief and his experiences of psychic things, he or she will be shunned by many folks. If someone of high status and or celebrity expresses the same sediments, most people will let these odd psychic beliefs go without judging or casually accept the beliefs because of the perceived status of the source.
One of the identifying traits of an unsustainable system is that eventually, nothing can sustain it. I think that we will get to a point where we will discover that the value of money is imaginary, that it only has value because people believe it does. This is even true of precious metals and gems. You cannot eat them, they do not keep the rain off, they do not keep you warm on a cold night. In order to obtain that which does, you are going to have to find someone who wants your money or bling in exchange for these things. When that which truly has value, food, clean air and water, shelter, and friendship become so scarce that no amount of money will purchase these things, then we will see how much all that money is worth.
Thanks Eric. The idea that the police are there to solve crimes – and the judiciary to mete out justice – is a fallacy. The police are there primarily to keep the peace — that is why ‘confidence is our police force’ is paramount.
This is not a new idea, just the way it is. The first police force was formed in London to stop the lower classes robbing and assaulting the upper classes. That, more or less, has formed their purpose all along.
Back when a million dollars was considered a whole lot of money, there was a saying; It is nigh on to impossible to put a million dollars in jail. It still holds true but with inflation and all, it’s a bit more today. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Stay to the good fight, you are not alone.