THREE FINE BOOKS

(that I haven’t read)

Introduction

Due to a lousy education I lost out on some great literature during my crucial teenage years. So I try these days to keep at least half an eye on the constant stream of new works and exposés. Although it's impossible to check everything, it's worth the effort because now and then an outstanding gem turns up.

Searching can range from straightforward sifting through subjects and names, to convoluted routes through all kinds of marginal and unlikely sources. It can even involve freak coincidence.

In a recent rummage on 'Amazon' I came-up with three promising works. I haven't read them, nor do I intend to. This is because the summaries, as well as editorial and customer reviews, tell enough; I don't need to read further, the issues are self-evident - I understand them already, as would anyone who's spent several years looking into the subversive nature of government.

Certainly, these books contain much that I don't know, perhaps even startling details that address precisely what interests me most, but time and cash are limited, and one can't read everything, after all. So for the moment I'll settle for what the reviews, etc. unveil, which in these instances is poignant and significant enough: three major issues that I believe we all ought to know about:

 

.........1. FREE LUNCH

.........2. UNPEOPLE

.........3. MAXED OUT

 

(A fourth importanmt tome : THE POWER ELITE - which I own - I say more about on a dedicated page.)

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Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)
by David Cay johnston

The author has written a well documented and detailed account of how less than 1% of Americans are getting rich of the backs of the other 99%. And, it isn't just individuals who are reaping millions of dollars from taxpayers...it's also corporations.

From Publishers Weekly
Johnston, a New York Times investigative reporter, has spent his 40-year career exposing collusion between government officials and private sector entities as they enrich the rich and ignore consequences for... laborers and the poor.

Review

“With clarity, conciseness, and cool, fact-saturated analysis, Mr. Johnston, the premier investigative reporter on how industry and commerce shift risks and costs to taxpayers, sends the ultimate message to all Americans—either we demand to have a say or we will continue to pay, pay, and pay.”
—Ralph Nader

 

Reader review:

How can our government be so expensive, yet so ineffective?

Showing it's no accident that our political institutions too often serve the interests of the rich and powerful, Mr. Johnston "follows the money" -- the money that buys special favors, and the money that's siphoned out of our pockets to pay for them.

This is an eminently readable and informative book, that deserves a large audience. But be warned -- being informed can produce outrage!

Reader review:

This book is an excellent analysis of corporate socialism. Johnson clarifies how profoundly industry has taken all the profits in a growing economy, taxing the citizens to do it. This a powerful political wakeup call. Highly recommended.

 

More Reviews:

5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent investigative reporting by one of the best
The author is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter. His facts are solid and his conclusions are justified.

5.0 out of 5 starsShould be required reading
I stumbled upon an anti-David Cay Johnston blog called "David Cay Johnston Watch". On it the author attempts and fails at a smear campaign on Mr. Johnston.

4.0 out of 5 starsStartling facts about where our money goes.
It is quite shocking to understand how some wealthy businessmen can make so much money taking advantage of various government programs at all levels of government.

5.0 out of 5 starsWhy not 'privatize' your grandmother?
When you finish this book you will want the word 'privatize' to added to the devil's dictionary.

5.0 out of 5 starsThey make money the old-fashioned way: They steal it
People collecting government welfare really are driving Cadillacs, as journalist David Cay Johnston's book FREE LUNCH explains.

1.0 out of 5 starsA Lousy Read
The author drones on and on to support his assumptions. In most cases, nothing he says is anything that a person who keeps up on government and events already knows.

5.0 out of 5 starsWhat every American should know
Mr. Johnston has done a terrific amount of work to amass a telling and damning story of what the free market system has become in the U.S.

4.0 out of 5 starsYou pay for their riches
If you had any question about how rich people get SO rich... this book answers many of them. The playing field is NOT level.

5.0 out of 5 starsEntertaining and Enlightening
When I started reading Free Lunch I found it hard to put down. The book told of the dark deeds of the corporations and superrich while maintaining a clear, informational and...

5.0 out of 5 starsa gem
This book is a gem. It busts the myth of "free" markets wide open by showing, in case after case, that the markets for everything from professional sports entertainment to...

 

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Unpeople: Victims of British Policy
by Mark Curtis

Book Description
Mark Curtis introduces the concept of "Unpeople" — those whose lives have been deemed expendable, worthless, in the pursuit of foreign policy objectives. The book is based on new revelations from declassified government documents.

From the Publisher
Curtis’s second book of revelations on post-war British foreign policy.

About the Author

Mark Curtis is a former Research Fellow of the Institute of Foreign Affairs and ex Head of Policy at Christian Aid. He is the author of four previous books, The Ambiguities of Power, The Great Deception and Trade for Life and Web of Deceit.

 

Reader review:

......Labour backs the Colombian government, a drug-dealing tyranny which has killed tens of thousands pretending that it is warring on drugs. British firms are the country's largest investors, at $10 billion. BP has invested $2 billion and controls half Colombia's oil output.

Labour backs... [Israel's] plan for permanently occupying the West Bank, which tears up all the UN Resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from the illegally occupied territories. Labour doubled its arms exports to Israel in 2001-02 - machine guns, rifles, tear gas, leg irons, electric shock belts, and parts for tanks, helicopters and F-16 planes. It abstained in the UN vote declaring Israel's wall illegal.

Curtis proves with a wealth of examples that the key features of the current war on Iraq are endemic and typical of Britain's ruling class: "in particular: the violation of international law, the government's abuse of the UN, its deception of the public and its support for US aggression." Only the incompetence of this government is unusual: their lies were so bad that we rumbled them.

As the House of Commons Defence Committee reported approvingly in March 2004, the Ministry of Defence's "media strategy ... was an integral part of the overall military plan." The Foreign Office's London-based `public diplomacy' cost £340 million a year. The Army says it must keep `moral as well as information dominance'. `Embedding' journalists "helped secure public opinion in the UK." British land force commander General Brims said, "none of them let the side down."

Curtis sums up Labour's policy, in alliance with NATO and the EU: "first, Britain is deepening its support for state terrorism in a number of countries; second, unprecedented plans are being developed to increase Britain's ability to intervene militarily around the world; third, the government is increasing its state propaganda operations, directed towards the British public; and fourth, Whitehall's planners have in effect announced they are no longer bound by international law."

Curtis' book is a slashing indictment of a ruling class in decline, ever more at odds with what British society needs and wants, ever more interventionist abroad. However, the right response is not a `global justice movement', a rootless internationalism, but workers' nationalism seizing real democracy, as in Cuba.

 

Reader review:

As a British citizen living under the long shadow of the New Labour political project, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed with cynicism when pondering the motivations and goals of a set of politicians so deeply in thrall to Big Business. Increasingly, too, the poverty of ideals among the mainstream UK political parties, in essence rival factions of the same party representing the narrow interests of the ruling state-corporate elite (as in the US), makes many fearful for the future of representative democracy in the UK.

Yet, even for those disillusioned with this depressing state of affairs, modern historian Mark Curtis' disturbing new book, Unpeople, is still likely to come as a huge shock. Unstintingly and unswervingly, in case study after case study, Curtis unravels the extraordinary levels of deception lurking beneath the squeaky-clean veneer of UK foreign policy's much-vaunted concern for human rights. At the heart of the author's portrayal of Britain as an outlaw state - one that certainly gives the US a good run for its money - lie the 'unpeople'. These are the expendable citizens of faraway countries who have suffered and died under the miseries imposed by the equally ruthless foreign policies of both Labour and Tory governments. Indeed, according to Curtis' conservative calculations, Britain may well be complicit in the deaths of in excess of 10 million `unpeople' since World War Two.

Those who have already read Curtis' previous exposé, Web of Deceit (2003), will immediately recognise the rigour of his content and the thoroughness of his research, while warming once again to his very readable writing style. In many ways, this book continues where `WOD' left off, bringing the UK's misadventures in Iraq up to date (circa autumn 2004) while mining declassified government documents in order to lay bare Britain's malevolent influences in conflicts as far afield and removed in history as Vietnam and Biafra (during the 1960's under the Wilson government) and contemporary Colombia.

In summary, 'Unpeople' is essential - though highly unpalatable - reading for anyone seeking to understand Britain's real role in the world. Be prepared for this five-star text to disabuse you of some comforting but misplaced assumptions.

 

Reader review:

From an American point of view what really disturbed me was the enabling that goes on between the U.S. and Great Britain. Mr. Curtis goes into some detail about the role Britain played in legitimizing and containing world condemnation for America's war in Vietnam. Although the British policy makers knew that this war was a lost cause, and knew of some of the U.S. military's more nefarious policies they still shielded the U.S. from as much criticism as they could.

For those of us here in the U.S. hoping that Britain could become a voice of reason, this book does not do much to nurture that hope. I was surprised when Curtis writes about how British foreign policy seems to be run by elites much like here in the U.S. Foreign policy is not subject to the will of the people, but instead is hidden from the public. It seems that whichever political party is in charge the direction of foreign policy rarely changes much.

The most frightening aspect of the book is how media is becoming more consolidated. Media is such an essential element for any democracy that this trend is perhaps the biggest threat to our freedoms than any terrorist or rogue state out there. As the media becomes more and more consolidated, the easier it will be to manipulate our information and thus the people. Reading that the British media is following the same trends as media here in the U.S. is a frightening prospect.

The British government's arms deals with the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin is another similarity between the U.S. and every other country with a highly developed military industrial complex. When a large portion of government revenue comes from exporting materials used for war or murder how can that nation ever be an honest broker for peace? When large sectors of an economy of any country is devoted entirely too military arms what will be that country's main export peace or war? We in the industrialized must make the tough decisions about whether we are willing to keep our enormous wealth even if that means we continue to export death and destruction to those less fortunate nations.

I believe one has to work to change his/her own home before they should criticize someone else's, and I did not read this book looking to criticize British policy, but instead I wanted to learn what kind of help the U.S.'s biggest ally might be in curbing our aggressive policies. In this regard, I found Mr. Curtis's book to be rather disappointing. It's very disturbing when you look at a country's polls and see that policy is in direct contradiction to what the people want. When a nation's foreign policy is not subject to its citizens or humanitarian standards then will that country ever be an honest defender of human rights or ever have the moral authority to demand morality from any other nation?

Until we the people arm ourselves with this knowledge and demand that our governments behave humanely these policy makers will be able to export death in our names. Like it or not, we all share responsibility for what our governments do.

 

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Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit (Paperback)
by James Scurlock

Book Description
The book the debt industry doesn't want you to read.

Synopsis
Scaldingly honest, impeccably researched and movingly written, "Maxed Out" is, as "Fast Food Nation" was to the food industry, the book, the captains of the debt industry wish you would never read. "Maxed Out" is a groundbreaking work that targets the debt industry and how it is fundamentally re-shaping our lives through misleading, unethical, insidious and sometimes illegal practices designed to bury us under ever higher amounts of debt. The book provides a fascinating and shocking look at how today's credit merchants are trying to get virtually everyone into the credit game. Although the poor are especially targeted by the industry in the hopes that they will become lifelong credit addicts, everyone from university students to grandmothers are under assault from debt companies offering easy access to all the material comforts we can imagine, with our dreams just a swipe away from coming true. "Maxed Out" shows how, you, the average citizen is courted, wooed and tempted every day into buying something on credit, as well as what happens when the day arrives when you can no longer make your minimum monthly payment.

 

Reader Review:

Really good book. This is a good book for so many reasons. It really teaches you about debt and how evil it is. It also teaches you what most people do not really understand, and that is banks actually want you to go broke, so they can pick up your assets for nothing when they repossess everything you have. It is important for people all over the world to understand that your nations central bank is based off the model of the Bank of England and its core of fractional reserve banking. Using this method, central banks create money out of nothing. What we have been told is "inflation" is nothing more than the central banks printing more money, which makes each unit of currency more worthless, so the cost of everything you buy goes up. What really comes across in this book is the way banks do not care who you are at all, even if you are mentally incompetent, they will still demand payment and try to sell debts to people who do not understand what they are buying. I recommend that this is not the only book you read about economics, because it is not the government who runs this world, but the wealthy investment banking families like the Rothchilds who are really pulling the strings. "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes her laws" - Mayer Rothchild