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Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

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Monday, September 22, 2014

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, Matt Taibbi, Spiegel & Grau, 2014

Among the consequences of the Wealth Gap in America seems to be the establishment of two different sets of laws, one for the rich and one for everyone else. This book gives the details.

The sale of Lehman Brothers to Barclays Bank was advertised as a last-minute, desperation fire sale. How did Barclays manage to get an extra five billion dollars as part of the deal? Among the reasons why the Justice Department doesn't prosecute "too big to fail" banks, or their top executives, is because they have lots of money, and lots of lawyers, to delay and delay the case until the government gives up. It is easier for the government, and it looks better, to go after smaller targets. Evidently, the agreements where a bank agrees to pay several billion dollars without admitting guilt, even for money laundering or handling Colombian drug cartel money, "sends a message." (Really?) There is the story of a group of billionaire hedge fund managers who conspired to drive a Canadian insurance company out of business, using dirty tricks. Countrywide Financial intentionally did not want to know details of the financial health of the people to whom they were lending money. They were happy to lend to anyone.

On the other side of the divide, how can America's prison population be going way up while the rate of violent crime is way down? The answer is: Stop and Frisk. Did you know that standing on the sidewalk in front of your house in New York City can get you arrested and thrown in a police van that just happens to be nearby? After going through the court system, charged with Blocking Pedestrian Traffic (even if there was no one else on the sidewalk at the time), you could be back in front of your house. This time, you are standing at the edge of the sidewalk, almost on the street. Prepare to get arrested again, charged with Blocking Vehicular Traffic (even if you weren't actually in the street).

The new criminal class in America seems to be welfare applicants and recipients. The author does not mean to suggest that accusations of welfare fraud should not be investigated, and, if necessary, prosecuted. What is the sense in assuming that Everyone is trying to defraud the system? This is not a case of "guilty until proven innocent" but "we know you are guilty, and eventually, we'll prove it."

This book easily reaches the level of Wow. It is a very eye-opening, and rather disheartening, look at life in present-day America. It is extremely highly recommended for all Americans.  

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