Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and StickYou with the Bill)

Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and StickYou with the Bill)

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by David Cay Johnston
     
 

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The bestselling author of Perfectly Legal returns with a powerful new exposé

How does a strong and growing economy lend itself to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and economic fear for a vast number of Americans? Free Lunch provides answers to this great economic mystery of our time, revealing how today's government policies and

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Overview

The bestselling author of Perfectly Legal returns with a powerful new exposé

How does a strong and growing economy lend itself to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and economic fear for a vast number of Americans? Free Lunch provides answers to this great economic mystery of our time, revealing how today's government policies and spending reach deep into the wallets of the many for the benefit of the wealthy few.

Johnston cuts through the official version of events and shows how, under the guise of deregulation, a whole new set of regulations quietly went into effect? regulations that thwart competition, depress wages, and reward misconduct. From how George W. Bush got rich off a tax increase to a $100 million taxpayer gift to Warren Buffett, Johnston puts a face on all of the dirty little tricks that business and government pull. A lot of people appear to be getting free lunches-but of course there's no such thing as a free lunch, and someone (you, the taxpayer) is picking up the bill.

Johnston's many revelations include:
• How we ended up with the most expensive yet inefficient health-care system in the world
• How homeowners? title insurance became a costly, deceitful, yet almost invisible oligopoly
• How our government gives hidden subsidies for posh golf courses
• How Paris Hilton's grandfather schemed to retake the family fortune from a charity for poor children
• How the Yankees and Mets owners will collect more than $1.3 billion in public funds

In these instances and many more, Free Lunch shows how the lobbyists and lawyers representing the most powerful 0.1 percent of Americans manipulated our government at the expense of the other 99.9 percent.

With his extraordinary reporting, vivid stories, and sharp analysis, Johnston reveals the forces that shape our everyday economic lives-and shows us how we can finally make things better.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An exhaustive litany of federal, state and even local giveaways to the very wealthy, described in agonizing and depressing detail. Beginning in the Reagan years, the U.S. government has placed a growing economic burden onto those least able to bear it, declares Johnston (Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich-and Cheat Everybody Else, 2003, etc.). It subsidizes the prosperous through tax breaks and other giveaways while stripping away protections for consumers, retirees, workers and investors. Starting with the sordid story of an exclusive Oregon golf course whose wealthy patrons enjoy recreation indirectly paid for by taxpayers, Johnston details dozens of giveaways, demonstrating beyond doubt that while government policies have made life much easier for those at the very top of the income pyramid, the great majority have it much worse than ever before. Examples range from the infamous-electricity deregulation, the collapse of Enron and the resulting astronomical spikes in the cost of power-to the obscure. In the latter category is Cabela's, a sporting-goods behemoth that convinced the citizens of tiny Hamburg, Pa., to grant it an exemption from property and sales taxes in exchange for locating a new megastore in their community. The total subsidy: some $8,000 for each man, woman and child in the community. Stories like these are no longer shocking, and Johnston fails to reach beyond sensationalism to solutions. In a final chapter, he suggests that citizens embrace democratic principles, but is disappointingly vague on how that might manifest itself in policies that would right the sinking ship he so vividly describes. Without solutions, thisremains little more than a list of grievances.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781591841913
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/27/2007
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.11(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize- winning investigative reporter, recently retired from The New York Times. Over his forty-year career he has won many honors, including a George Polk Award, and has uncovered so many tax dodges that he was called the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States.” His two most recent books—Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal—were both New York Times bestsellers.

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