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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 wh 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.


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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 wh 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.

30 review for The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    There is no law, only power. The author looks at some of the details of how this is manifested in the USA, and offers, in addition, some insight into the psychology of criminal targeting. Matt Taibbi is widely known and respected as a hard-hitting author and financial reporter/editor for Rollingstone Magazine. His previous book, Griftopia, went into considerable detail about how debt is used by large corporations to ensnare customers, how commodity speculation screws us all, how some politici There is no law, only power. The author looks at some of the details of how this is manifested in the USA, and offers, in addition, some insight into the psychology of criminal targeting. Matt Taibbi is widely known and respected as a hard-hitting author and financial reporter/editor for Rollingstone Magazine. His previous book, Griftopia, went into considerable detail about how debt is used by large corporations to ensnare customers, how commodity speculation screws us all, how some politicians are selling off public assets for their private political gain and how the vampire squid that is Goldman Sachs has been draining the fiscal blood from the planet. If you get off on seeing what is going on behind the curtains, this constitutes good times. Well, Taibbi is at it again. He decided to look at how the legal system treats street crime and fiscal malfeasance. See? Even the terminology that pops to mind is a form of cover-up. If Al Capone stole, say, a million dollars from a bank there would be no question that he was a bank-robber and a dangerous felon. But if a corporate leach like, say, Barclay’s Bank, steals $10 billion, no one goes on the FBI’s Ten-Most-Wanted list. Newspaper headlines about a massive theft are remarkably absent, and ultimately, unlike the situation with Capone, no one goes to jail. (Yes, I know he went to jail for tax evasion, not bank-robbery, sheesh) The pension funds and other investors whose resources were stolen are left holding the very empty bag, with no Lone Ranger riding to the rescue. It is almost as if the prosecutors and regulators responsible for keeping the foxes from slaughtering the hens are wasted on heroin, nodding off in a corner while the predators go about their business. The author At the other end of the economic spectrum, the police-judicial system seems to be zooming along on speed or Angel Dust. Taibbi spent some time with illegal immigrants, working class blacks, and even a white musician to get a good look at how the legal system operates at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. We’re creating a dystopia, where the mania of the state isn’t secrecy or censorship but unfairness. Obsessed with success and wealth and despising failure and poverty, our society is systematically dividing the population into winners and losers, using institutions like the courts to speed the process. Winners get rich and get off. Losers go broke and go to jail. It isn’t just that some clever crook on Wall Street can steal a billion dollars and never see the inside of a courtroom; it’s that plus the fact that some black teenager a few miles away can go to jail just for standing on a street corner, that makes the whole picture complete. Taibbi offers plenty of examples. Uptown, (generically, yes I do know that Wall Street is geographically downtown, geez) corporations routinely and knowingly engage in illegal behavior, confident that no one will ever go to jail, certainly not anyone who counts, and if the company is ever dragged into civil court for its crimes, the worst that will happen is that it will have to pay a fine, the cost of which will be borne by shareholders. Executives are never held personally liable, and any fines that may be levied against them are paid by the company. Corporations routinely hold their employees hostage in negotiations with regulators and prosecutors, threatening that if they are actually held to account for their crimes, thousands of innocent people will lose their jobs. This is the essence of the too-big-to-fail problem. When Arthur Andersen was actually prosecuted for its crimes, 27,000 people were put out of work. The political cost of such an impact is unacceptable to the politicians who run government and decide who gets charged with what. Yet, the regulators, prosecutors and legislators do nothing to reduce the size of these Godzilla-like corporations, leaving them free to roam the planet leaving a trail of smoking ruins in their wake. On the other hand, it is stunning how much public investment there has been in stomping on the downtrodden. The welfare system, in particular, seems to feed on misery, doing its utmost to make needing help a scourge-worthy offense. If any of you have had to deal with this system, you will be familiar with horrendous lines, wait times, incompetent employees, contradictory requirements, byzantine regulations, and the complete surrender of your constitutional rights that is entailed when you are a poor individual in need. This is where all the moral hazard concern is focused, on whether a potential welfare recipient might have a pair of nice underwear in her drawer, or might somehow be trying to get over on the public welfare system. Somehow that moral hazard is not applied to organizations that borrow billions of public dollars at virtually no interest, then use those funds to engage in illegal activities. Nope, no moral hazard there. Street crime has been dropping nationally for some time, but governments federal and local have been ramping up their wide net approach to filling jails and local coffers. Turns out arresting people willy-nilly is good business for local governments, regardless of the merits of the arrests. And apparently it offers career advancement for those who net the most fish. And if millions of people are irreparably harmed by this Orwellian practice, well tough titty. Who cares about those people anyway? They don’t write large checks to people running for office. Taibbi looks at collateral consequences. When corporations are accused of anything they hide behind the collateral damage actual prosecution might cause, and battalions of lawyers. Overwhelmed, under-resourced and probably chicken-shit prosecutors advance straight to deals that not only entail no jail time for perpetrators of massive crimes, but not even an admission of guilt. When some poor schmo is gathered up in a street sweep, even if there is no actual justification, that person can spend months in jail, merely for being accused. The person’s family can be thrown out of their home. The person can be made ineligible for a whole raft of potential public benefits. Parental rights can be lost. But these collateral consequences are never considered when the person charged is poor, and particularly when that person is a minority. It is a truism that life is not fair. But fairness should at least be a goal. We should at least try to apply the law equally to all people, certainly to all citizens. And yet we are headed in the opposite direction. Rule of Law has become a cynical joke. When punishment is routinely applied only to the powerless, and the powerful continue their illegal practices with no effective punishment, the law is no longer merely an ass, it is a trained attack dog, a weapon used by society to torment those it disapproves of. That’s what nobody gets, that the two approaches to justice may individually make a kind of sense, but side by side, they’re a dystopia, where common city courts become factories for turning poor people into prisoners, while federal prosecutors on the white-collar beat turn into overpriced garbage men, who behind closed doors quietly dispose of the sins of the rich for a fee. As more and more folks are being pushed over the side of the middle class to swim the waters of working class America, more and more folks are coming into contact with the legal horrors that swim those waters. Taibbi is always very successful at pointing out the flaws in our systems, the inequities, the underhandedness, the corruption. He is extremely gifted at boosting his readers’ blood-pressure. I do wish he had devoted some more effort to offering suggestions as to how things might be nudged back toward a less toxic level of unfairness. He does so, in bits here and there, by noting, for example, the radically dimorphic funding allotments for white-collar prosecutors versus, say, immigration enforcement. But there really needed to be more of that. A tea-kettle opening, at least, through which we might direct some of that screaming steam. But Taibbi has indeed succeeded in pointing out the big-picture gross unfairness that permeates our nation. And if he allows himself to vent his rage at times, making not-wholly supported assumptions, stretching his canvas a bit, I suppose it is forgivable. Sometimes he goes too far, such as when he suggests that unfairness is an aim of our system. It may work out that way, but I do not accept that there is intentional unfairness at play here. The American people are notoriously passive, having dined for a very long time on the empty calories of so-called personal responsibility. (Less filling! Tastes great!) People, it is not your fault that you got laid off. It is not your fault that the company your bank sold your mortgage to is foreclosing on you even though your payments are up to date. They are probably using feloniously false signatures to do the deed. It is not your fault that the local constabulary finds it convenient to take you in for being in the wrong place at any time, just so that some boys in blue can make their daily quotas. It is not your fault that corporate profits keep rising while salaries stagnate, or worse. At some point you should begin to get really pissed. Divide will certainly fuel that justified rage. It seems sometimes that contemporary life, for many in the dwindling middle and working classes, is a series of frustrations designed to test our commitment to non-violence. Hopefully, by the time that pressure builds up, there will emerge some way to vent it other than in pointless street rioting or guillotine-fueled mass destruction. But at the rate we are going I would not bet on it. This is not a class war that is going on out there. War presumes multiple combatants. What is happening now in America is class enslavement. And it is not gonna get any better any time soon. Any legal system that allows the biggest thieves in history to walk off scot free is a joke and does not deserve our respect. This is not to say that there are not good people in government, people who truly want to do right for all of us. And it is not to say that the system is incapable of locking up seriously bad people. And sometimes legislators and government executives do manage to get something positive, something reasonable, something fair, done. But the wins are few and far between, while the losses accumulate and accelerate. So long as the super-villains in finance and transnational corporations continue to loot the planet with impunity, it remains the truth. There is no law, only power. =============================EXTRA STUFF NY Times Magazine article about Why Only One Top Banker Went to Jail for the Financial Crisis A NY Times op-ed by Thomas B. Edsall, Supreme Injustice, on how the top court is taking sides in the class war A May 7, 2014 article from the Dealbook section of the NY Times on prosecution of big financial crime, Seeking Tough Justice, but Settling for Empty Promises An August 26, 2014 NY Times Op Ed by Thomas Edsall,The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism, notes the increasing privatization of not only prisons, but public fine and fee administration, all with virtually no oversight. Guess who suffers? In this August 26, 2014 opinion piece in the NY Times, How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops Erwin Cheminsky argues for recognition of what anyone who is paying attention should know. There is no law, only power. Money in elections is the rotten core of the American electoral apple. Happily residing in that core is the Federal Elections Commission. This September 2, 2014 NY Times op-ed offers a fix for that particular problem. Some de-worming is in order. Following the non-indictment in Ferguson (when was the last time you heard of a prosecutor offering a grand jury exculpatory evidence?) the notion of division is back on the front page - NY Times - 11/26/14 - After Ferguson Announcement, a Racial Divide Remains Over Views of Justice A fine example of how the law tilts against the poor in a Dickensian version of debtors' prison - Can't Pay Your Fines? Your License Could Be Taken Here is another way in which our legal system criminalizes being poor - Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat. - by Frances Robles and Shaila Dewan - April 19, 2015 Sued Over Old Debt, and Blocked From Suing Back - By Jessica Sinver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery - NY Times - December 22, 2015 in his op-ed piece, Is It a Crime to Be Poor?, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof looks at the growing trend of, effectively, a revival of debtors' prisons in the USA - June 11, 2016 3/8/2018 - Buzzfeed - an in depth report on how secret NYPD files show that many NYC police guilty of serious crimes are left unpunished - dark stuff and not all that surprising - BUSTED - by Kendall Taggert and Mike Hayes 5/20/2018 - NY Times - A chilling article on how unscrupulous landlords abuse the housing court system in NYC to push poor and working class people out of their apartments, so they can jack rents up to astronomical amounts - Unsheltered: The Eviction Machine Churning
 Through New York City - by Kim Barker, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Grace Ashford and Sarah Cohen ==============================THE AUTHOR Links to the author’s Twitter and FB pages I could paste a gazillion Taibbi refs here, (not all of them complimentary) but if you are interested in more than the few listed here, the Google machine will happily spit up scads when you enter the author’s name. Matt at Rollingstone (he left there in February 2014) Matt’s pre-2011 blog Matt’s prior book, Griftopia

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    "People are beginning to become disturbingly comfortable with a kind of official hypocrisy .... we've become numb to the idea that rights aren't absolute but are enjoyed on a kind of sliding scale...." -Matt Taibbi.. 'The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap' "My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice." -Bryan Stevenson.. 'Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption' Matt Taib "People are beginning to become disturbingly comfortable with a kind of official hypocrisy .... we've become numb to the idea that rights aren't absolute but are enjoyed on a kind of sliding scale...." -Matt Taibbi.. 'The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap' "My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice." -Bryan Stevenson.. 'Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption' Matt Taibbi, a journalist who writes for 'Rolling Stone' magazine and the author of this book, 'The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap', began this investigation because of a weird statistical anomaly he had been noticing. Conventional wisdom says that when poverty rates increase, crime rates also increase. After a period of declining poverty rates in the United States during the 1990s and corresponding drop in crime, the poverty rates once again began to rise in the 2000s, particularly after the financial crisis in 2008... but oddly, the crime rates remained low. Even more strangely, despite this drop in crime, the prison population had exploded. In fact, as Taibbi points out.... "The prison population is the biggest in the history of human civilization.. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today than there ever were in Stalin's gulags. And for what it's worth, there are more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak..." How could this be? This anomaly led Taibbi to investigate and attempt to answer... who DOES go to jail in the United States? And why? Matt Taibbi had reported on the 2008 financial crisis for 'Rolling Stone'.. a crisis which he refers to as "the greatest crime wave in a generation". It was this crisis that made him take note of the double standard that appears to be built into the structure of America's justice system. Moving back and forth between the activities engaged in by investment bankers and hedge funds that led to the financial crisis which was responsible for eliminating 40% of the world's wealth and the activities occurring daily in neighborhoods such as Brooklyn, NY and San Diego, California where residents (mostly non-white and poor) are arrested for 'crimes' such as riding bicycles on sidewalks, walking around the street with open containers of alcohol and jumping the turnstile in the subway, Taibbi provides research and anecdotal evidence to demonstrate the stark contrast in the penalties meted out for these activities.. or 'crimes'. Matt Taibbi does a thorough job of taking the reader through the play-by-play of the banking crisis, patiently explaining financial terms such as mortgage-backed securities and subprime loans in terms that the average citizen (like me) could understand. He provides example after example of the cheating and fraud which was occurring on Wall Street and around the world... the secret $4 billion deal which was occurring involving a few remaining Lehman Brothers executives and top executives of Barclay's bank during those final hours before Lehman Brothers announced their bankruptcy ... a deal which both groups lied about not only tot he bankruptcy judge but also Lehman creditors, who were left with little in terms of valuable assets. He describes the mortgage fraud involving the biggest banks which left tens of thousands of people in foreclosure and the tax payers responsible for paying out bailout cash. He even presents details of the case involving the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) , which had been laundering $850 million for drug cartels in Central and South America. The importance of these cases in terms of the thesis he presents in this book is to demonstrate how justice was carried out in these cases. Simply... no one involved in any of the described activities and cases spent even a day in jail. The institutions themselves, of course, were required to pay fines... billions of dollars combined... but no one lost a single day of their freedom for what they had done. And perhaps more importantly, no one was even required to admit to any wrong doing. Meanwhile, not far from Wall Street, in a Brooklyn neighborhood, an African American man named Andrew Brown was experiencing the American justice system in quite a different way. Andrew Brown had lived a difficult and troubled life and had spent his teen years in one scrape with police after another. After the death of his chronically ill and long -suffering mother and after meeting a young woman who provided him with encouragement and support, Andrew turned his life around. He married this young woman and they started a family and he secured his first 'real' job.. working the night shift driving a casino shuttle bus.Although he was living his life as a responsible citizen, he found that he continued to be arrested by police. He received summonses for standing on street corners and talking with friends (failure to disburse), for 'blocking public access' to his own apartment building while talking to a neighbor in front of the building in the early hours of the morning and he was arrested multiple times by police for 'fitting the description' of wanted criminals... although it was VERY clear that the only characteristic that Andrew shared with these wanted criminals was the color of his skin. Matt Taibbi relates example after example of cases which share a great deal in common with Andrew Brown's case. In an immigrant community in Gainesville , Georgia, Taibbi met an undocumented immigrant named Alvaro Fernandez, who had come from Colombia and had been operating a construction business in Georgia for many years. Alvaro did not possess a valid driver's license as many states (including Georgia) does not permit immigrants without documents to obtain driver's licenses. Alvaro had been arrested at a roadside checkpoint. As Taibbi points out, these checkpoints have become more and more common across America. Although they are referred to as 'sobriety checkpoints', it is not lost on people in the immigrant communities that they are only set up in areas which border the neighborhoods in which immigrants live and are used at times of the day when members of the community are going to work and returning home. Alvaro describes a harrowing tale of his experiences after being arrested by police and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE). The process of deporting undocumented immigrants often moves so swiftly that many do not even have time to say goodbye to their families. In a final example of the 'divide' which exists in the justice experienced by our 'two Americas', Matt Taibbi traveled to San Diego County in California, where he learned about a program called P100, which was implemented in the state as a result of Clinton-era welfare reform. He follows several people (mostly non-white) through the process of applying for government assistance... cash assistance (called CalWORKS) and food stamps. The process is exhausting and includes many hours and days sitting in overcrowded and understaffed assistance offices. And if a person is tentatively approved for assistance, they must agree to an investigation of their home and life by a state fraud investigator. The applicants Taibbi meets describe investigators barging into their homes unannounced and rooting through their refrigerators and cupboards and even their underwear drawers and closets. Applicants were threatened over and over, told that if they lie in the application process, they would lose custody of their children and would be sent to jail. And not surprisingly to me, Taibbi cites several cases in which applicants were indeed sentenced to jail terms for failing to report that a partner lived with them in their residence or for failing to disclose a source of income. Finally, a court case was filed in 2004 to challenge this law..... Rocio Sanchez et al v. County of San Diego. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the case on the behalf of six litigants on the basis that it violates the 4th Amendment protection against 'unreasonable searches and seizures'. Ultimately, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that P100 was not unconstitutional because these visits from 'friendly' government investigators were not searches. The Court also said that the 'public has a strong interest in ensuring that aid provided from tax dollars reaches its proper and intended recipients.' Of course, this statement issued by the Court isn't EXACTLY true because if it were, anyone receiving government aid of any kind would be required to have his/her home searched. People who receive tax deductions or credits; student aid to attend college; farmers who receive agricultural subsidies and yes, even bankers who receive bailout money should be open to the same sort of government investigators inspecting their homes and personal belongings. On the surface perhaps, it may seem that Matt Taibbi is excusing the behaviors of immigrants who don't obtain the required documentation to live in the country or the government aid recipient who does not report all of her income to the state but that is not the case he is constructing in this book. Instead, he is pointing out the fallacy and hypocrisy that exists each and every time someone refers to 'ALL citizens being equal under the law'... because supposedly we are all protected by the Bill of Rights. From what I know of history, I doubt that that statement on equality of rights has EVER been true. Perhaps it is simply the ideal.. a kind of goal.. but America has never really come close to achieving this goal. Or perhaps some people are just 'more equal than others'. I think Matt Taibbi makes an interesting and uncomfortable point when he says... "We have a profound hatred of the weak and the poor , and a corresponding groveling terror before the rich and successful, and we are building a bureaucracy to match those feelings." As Taibbi demonstrated in this book, the divide between what justice looks like for the wealthy and the poor is stark. Wealthy bankers stole and committed fraud and the U.S. Treasury was raided on their behalf. Their actions were at most described as 'unethical'or 'victimless crimes'. Meanwhile, in neighborhoods across America... mostly poor and non-white.... citizens are subjected to being arrested for standing on street corners out for 'fitting the description' or 'driving while black' and citizens applying for a few hundred dollars of government assistance to feed their children are subject to government 'searches' and are denied aid for things such as keeping two toothbrushes in their bathrooms or for owning sexy lingerie (After all, if you're THAT poor, you shouldn't even be thinking about having sex!). As inequality continues to grow, this justice 'divide' leads to the criminalization of poverty and it all has become a tremendous 'open secret'. Our society is aware of the diminished rights afforded to certain citizens but we remain silent. Does our silence mean consent? If not perhaps it is time to break our silence. After all, how confident are you that your rights are secure?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Taibbi updated some poverty and wealth gap "stats" for my Intro SOC class here, and reminds me of the Country-Western song about in the honky-tonk the wealthy person dances and the poor person pays the band. Beyond the drive to alcoholic drinking and heavy drugs, how the poor also pays is through receiving disproportional punishment in the U.S. "system". The poor have large jail and fine punishments for sometimes irrelevant and trivial transgressions of local laws, while the wealthy exhibit trem Taibbi updated some poverty and wealth gap "stats" for my Intro SOC class here, and reminds me of the Country-Western song about in the honky-tonk the wealthy person dances and the poor person pays the band. Beyond the drive to alcoholic drinking and heavy drugs, how the poor also pays is through receiving disproportional punishment in the U.S. "system". The poor have large jail and fine punishments for sometimes irrelevant and trivial transgressions of local laws, while the wealthy exhibit tremendous graft and embezzlement and get away with nothing but perhaps some hand-slaps. Criminology points out that there are no wealthy people, ever, anywhere, on death row, and that bias of class going all the way through all other economic-social institutions. Taibbi also reminds me of the old adage of Marxists that there is crime both in the street and the suites! Media focuses us on the former, as Taibbi knows. In terms of scale, scope, and impact, it's not the "index crimes" of the street that hurts he working- and middle-classes as much as "white collar" in the suites. He also reminds me that behind (most) every fortune is a crime. Often that crime is ongoing, and Trump anti-regulation moves will exacerbate the concentration of wealth more than ever before. I'd already learned that the 1% now owns more than 45% of wealth in the U.S., and had read by political economists that the lowest quintile of U.S. households had lost a staggering 65% of its' (admittedly) tiny percentage of total wealth over just a couple generations, and it was speculated that may often have occurred by broadspread losing of the "family" home/farm, after generations of struggling to keep it. Could that be sadder? Maybe it makes sense we've become a police state. Taibbi is angry and I imagine that is our common fear under that but I do so appreciate his sharp eye and tongue. I don't agree with those that call him a polemicist, as his journalism and analysis makes him among the best of the (also scary) remarkably small group of young, progressive/radical journalists today. A recent trouncing of a government that has promoted Steve Bannon to all our peril is here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Matt Taibbi's previous books were fun to read, riotous accounts of populist anger, and part of the thrill was seeing what incendiary language he'd come up with for the next corporate criminal in his sights. Vampire squid! The Divide is Taibbi's best book, an essential, despairing look at the two completely different ways we prosecute crimes committed by poor people and by super-rich people, primarily because Taibbi's writing itself has matured. Make no mistake, the white-hot rage is still very muc Matt Taibbi's previous books were fun to read, riotous accounts of populist anger, and part of the thrill was seeing what incendiary language he'd come up with for the next corporate criminal in his sights. Vampire squid! The Divide is Taibbi's best book, an essential, despairing look at the two completely different ways we prosecute crimes committed by poor people and by super-rich people, primarily because Taibbi's writing itself has matured. Make no mistake, the white-hot rage is still very much present; it irradiates every page of this gigantic, often exhausting book. It's more that the indignation is self-explanatory; Taibbi trusts his writing more. He doesn't need to open the thesaurus to come up with hilariously hyperbolic descriptions of CEOs, not when he can meticulously lay out their crimes for you and let you come up with your own.* The result is a book that's less gonzo than his previous works -- a little less Hunter S. Thompson -- in favor of a reporting and writing style that can now assertively be called his own. He is a bullshit-caller of the first order, and someone we desperately need around. As for the content within, what can I say. The central conundrum Taibbi lays out in the introduction -- why it is that crime overall is down but the poverty rate is way up and our prison populations are skyrocketing -- is answered so thoroughly that it barely seems controversial. By the end of the book, your anger at our impotent legal system will give way to a begrudging numbness. The author has since left his perch at Rolling Stone to begin a new venture that also includes Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. I admire those journalists but prefer Taibbi, mainly because, unlike the others, he knows how to use humor to illuminate the outrages; without it, these accounts would be soul-suckingly joyless. You have to laugh at some of this shit; otherwise, you'll never get by. Here's hoping he never loses his edge. *He does call Dick Fuld "one of the great assholes of all time," but that's just straight reporting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I debated about reading this book - when it was picked for our 'non-fiction' read with my local book club. I read 'Will's review here on Goodreads. It inspired me. So between Will's review...( giving me a better context for this book), plus local pressures, and personal internal 'self' pressure ---thinking....."this might be valuable for me...as I felt some type of moral & emotional responsibility to 'try' to inform myself better about the social issues which can make people's blood pressure ris I debated about reading this book - when it was picked for our 'non-fiction' read with my local book club. I read 'Will's review here on Goodreads. It inspired me. So between Will's review...( giving me a better context for this book), plus local pressures, and personal internal 'self' pressure ---thinking....."this might be valuable for me...as I felt some type of moral & emotional responsibility to 'try' to inform myself better about the social issues which can make people's blood pressure rise --- facing the realities on how we are criminalizing poverty. Large companies can commit obscene frauds --people go on with their lives-- companies pay the fines- but nobody goes to jail. People on the other end of the economy... get tossed into prisons for much smaller crimes. This is a book about social justice. White collar crime and criminals that are never prosecuted- Banks and other institutions that are too big to fail. The larger the organization -- everyone is guilty - but nobody is guilty. ( or at least it's hard to know who to point the finger at). Much of the book is just sad with infuriating stories about poor people getting the really raw deal with the welfare system and criminal justice systems. Other parts of the books taps into your 'anger' emotions about how Wall Street screws over investors on purpose. There is corruption at the top and bottom in our society ... but so very different - at different ends. It's frightening to realized how much this country disrespects the poor and weak. They are actually punished 'more' for it. The rewards revolves around the powerful -- and by powerful ...we are speaking $$$$$$$ If a person is extremely wealthy... 'Power Speaks' for itself. Pretty thick book - often funny - ( haha), ...( the author is in YOUR FACE - no holds back, using pretty crude language at times which may or may not put readers off). But emotions will go up and down like being on a roller coaster-- So many stories to chew on... which reinforce the reality that...."The rich get richer and the poor get poorer". Light bedtime reading! ha!

  6. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    All I feel is outrage. And despair. Matt Taibbi has written a book which explains in layman's terms how United States citizens and many around the world were conspired against by Wall Street banks, brokers and investment businesses. If you were one of the those who ended up bankrupt, or in foreclosure, or if you lost your job because the investment plan of your employer disappeared overnight in the crash of 2008, this will explain some of how it happened. The variety of tricks and lies are amazi All I feel is outrage. And despair. Matt Taibbi has written a book which explains in layman's terms how United States citizens and many around the world were conspired against by Wall Street banks, brokers and investment businesses. If you were one of the those who ended up bankrupt, or in foreclosure, or if you lost your job because the investment plan of your employer disappeared overnight in the crash of 2008, this will explain some of how it happened. The variety of tricks and lies are amazing, particularly since they made almost no effort to hide their crimes internally within these companies. More impressive is how these top executives went on with their lives, wealthier, and with even greater respect heaped upon them by their peers, and received even bigger bonuses while their companies either went bankrupt or limped back to healthy earnings after loans provided by the US government. Why? "Too big to fail". Inexplicably, none of the major individuals responsible for the financial crash are poor now, paid fines, went to jail or have a criminal record on the books. Instead some of the major companies (no humans) involved, such as Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo or Bank of America, had their 'hands' slapped and are now still trying to get away with as much thievery and law-breaking possible, still using variations of the cons they did before. Outside of a few weeks of embarrassment, they did not lose much of their incredible wealth. These companies lost only a few days of income after paying multi-millions in fines, even though they stole billions and billions of dollars. Some, as we know, went bankrupt. Some human beings, mid-level patsies, received tougher punishment, but no high-level executive has been punished in any way for malfeasance or any criminal felony. Socially, they still attend the best parties and everyone who they meet still kisses their feet hoping for a some benefice. Personally, I'm frustrated by the ignorance the average middle-class person has about the tremendous wealth of the 'no taxes' top 10%. About the dozens of yachts, the $50,000 purses, the hundreds of classic cars which can't be driven in climate-controlled garages, the dozens of mansions one may own which they can't possibly visit much less live in in a decade. Meanwhile, as alternating case histories of poor people who commit the same types of crimes as bank and brokerage employees did, who are illegal immigrants, live in the wrong neighborhood, are not white, sell drugs, fraudulently get food stamps or welfare, default on credit cards or other contractual obligations, are detailed by the author, we see how these criminals end up arrested, mistreated, beaten, put in prison, and must pay off fines for the rest of their lives, while having rights such as voting or the ability to pass credit checks for jobs and loans forever taken away. Many end up in prison due to 'shortcuts' used in the legal system which rob the defendants of fair trials. Sometimes, the custom of robo-signing of documents without checking for pertinent information, or banks outsourcing the processing of paperwork to inexpensive secondary companies, will bring ordinary innocent customers before courts and placed under arrest by police, for 'crimes' they did not commit. The way these cases are now handled does not mean records will be cleared even if everyone knows a mistake was made. The reason? The financial institutions and banks 'are too big' to be held accountable. The customers, on the other hand, may never clear their record, which follows them for life. The worst of it is even though EVERYoNE knows a miscarriage of justice has occurred, police, lawyers and sometimes judges will put pressure on the defendant to plead guilty so the case can be closed. The innocent victims will be told it won't hurt anything if they say they are guilty, maybe a $50 fine or hours of public service, but in fact they will not pass background checks anymore. Justice for all? No. Right now, there are two justice systems. One for the wealthy, and one for the rest of us. Global warming isn't the only problem people are ignoring. At least, until it's you being pulled over by a cop under orders to meet a quota, or it's your wallet or mail being stolen and the theft paperwork is mishandled, or it's your house being taken by a bank which has committed crimes costing billions with no penalty when you missed some payments of a few thousand dollars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    JEN A

    When I first started reading this book I thought it was gonna be a liberal’s take on the gap between the wealthy and the poor. I soon found out that the author has definitely done his homework and lays the blame equally across all party lines. This was an extremely eye-opening book. It is not an easy read and there are parts that I don’t quite understand since I don’t have a background dealing in stocks or have a firm understanding of what goes on in Wall Street. But the premise of the book is e When I first started reading this book I thought it was gonna be a liberal’s take on the gap between the wealthy and the poor. I soon found out that the author has definitely done his homework and lays the blame equally across all party lines. This was an extremely eye-opening book. It is not an easy read and there are parts that I don’t quite understand since I don’t have a background dealing in stocks or have a firm understanding of what goes on in Wall Street. But the premise of the book is extremely important in that our society does not treat everyone equally. Somewhere along the way minor crimes get major punishment and major crimes get minor to no punishment at all. The author explains how the wealthy get wealthier and the poor get poor. Being firmly in the middle class this is a hard pill to swallow and once your eyes are fully opened you can’t ignore the injustice anymore. This is a must read for everybody in our society today.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    If you have a lot of it, [money] the legal road you get to travel is well lit and beautifully maintained. If you don’t, it’s a dark alley and most Americans would be shocked to find out what’s at the end of it. Taibbi clearly describes the sharp divide in our system of justice, detailing how individuals leading large banks stole billions of dollars, unpunished, while others (poor and usually black) are hauled off to jail for crimes as nonsensical as "blocking pedestrian traffic." Some of the st If you have a lot of it, [money] the legal road you get to travel is well lit and beautifully maintained. If you don’t, it’s a dark alley and most Americans would be shocked to find out what’s at the end of it. Taibbi clearly describes the sharp divide in our system of justice, detailing how individuals leading large banks stole billions of dollars, unpunished, while others (poor and usually black) are hauled off to jail for crimes as nonsensical as "blocking pedestrian traffic." Some of the stories are horrifying to read. Unfortunately, the divide is getting worse - this book precedes our current president's policies. Even though this is a depressing book, it is very educational and important reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie *Eff your feelings*

    O.O Oh boy. I will have to take a breath, process this for a bit before I can get my thoughts on this one in line. In short: We suck (U.S.) and we're doomed. O.O Oh boy. I will have to take a breath, process this for a bit before I can get my thoughts on this one in line. In short: We suck (U.S.) and we're doomed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Sometimes the rating for a book is very heavily dependent upon timing. This is an excellent book. Well worth reading. I listened to the audible version which was excellent. The first thing that comes across from the very beginning is that Matt Taibbi is very angry. He’s angry about the systemic injustices, about the unfairness and the outright prejudices within this society and the way the justice system is rigged. But what he is most angry about is the inequality between the poor and wealthy th Sometimes the rating for a book is very heavily dependent upon timing. This is an excellent book. Well worth reading. I listened to the audible version which was excellent. The first thing that comes across from the very beginning is that Matt Taibbi is very angry. He’s angry about the systemic injustices, about the unfairness and the outright prejudices within this society and the way the justice system is rigged. But what he is most angry about is the inequality between the poor and wealthy that is so perverse that the wealthy steal, and cheat openly, flouting any system of justice knowing that whatever they do it will be ignored because they have wealth and because of the complexity of the crimes. Taibbi focuses on minor (or nonexistent) crimes that are prosecuted to the full extent of the law causing grievous injury to poor people to make remuneration. The justice system has no mercy for the poor in Taibbi’s examples. Their basic crime is being poor and powerless to fight allegations. The wealthy (white collar) crimes in contrast are far more harmful to society with some of Taibbi’s examples being millions of dollars stolen or fraudulently used to bilk cities out of tax funds that would presumably be used for schools or roads or retirements etc. These crimes go unpunished or fines of nominal amounts that do not even cause the perpetrators any hardship at all. Or crimes committed by an organization with decisions detrimental to society at large (be it pollution or fraud or price rigging etc) being made and no one (not the corporation or the management) is held accountable. Meanwhile a single mother with children under 5 whose husband has been deported is driving with an expired driver’s license is punished with 300 hours of community service. The judge thinks he’s lenient when he hands down this sentence. But to her 300 hours of community service will bankrupt her. She has to pay for child care. She can’t earn the money to take care of her family because the money she earns goes to childcare so she can do her community service. To do the community service and work to earn money and she has no time with her kids. It’s insane. Her response seems logical. How is this benefiting anyone? The very wealthy can contract lawyers who can parse and quibble and negotiate the crimes down to nothing go free while inflicting significant, tangible, measurable damage to significantly more people. Politicians do nothing about it because these people also fund campaigns and have influence over the types of laws being made and the types of restrictions on enforcement. This book is filled with examples of extremely minor or nonexistent violations of the law being prosecuted heavy handedly on the poor and people of color and immigrants. He also has numerous examples of “white collar” crime when discovered not being prosecuted, or if prosecuted the sentences are far more lenient and much more judicial concern about the impact on the lives of those people. It’s an ongoing theme, no mercy for the poor. Ignore the rich and let them do as they please. It’s infuriating and it goes on to a degree that I never suspected. Even the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to what has occurred. Eric Holder seems to be a champion for Civil Rights but some of that may be a diversion from prosecuting financial malfeasance cases. Very cynical and unfortunately, likely true. Timing is everything. I listened to this book while an event occurred where a Stanford college athlete, son of a wealthy family, raped a coed while she was unconscious. He was caught in the act. The judge gave him 6 months jail time and some community service. The judge deemed that any harsher punishment would do irreparable harm to the athlete. This was a flagrant case of the wealthy being held to a different standard than the poor. It was a flagrant case that was understandable to the masses that there was an inequity in the way that justice is applied. That moment of injustice in my view did more to expose the inequities associated with wealth than this book did. Taibbi concentrates on the complex crimes of the wealthy and contrasts them with the simple crimes of the poor. I think there are countless examples of the inequities of justice that would be more accessible to the masses. Certainly the crimes that Taibbi outlined were far more devastating to a far larger group of people. But to really highlight the inequities, I think the book would have been more impacting if it showed the disparity in treatment of similar crimes and then basically said, but it’s far worse than you think because the wealthy are doing far more damage to everyone and no one being held accountable. In other words, it’s a forest for the trees argument. In short, I think Taibbi is right to be angry and supports his arguments fiercely. My only complaint and it is minor, is that his indictment of the wealthy though accurate, was not very accessible. There should be more accessible events that spell out the disparity. I don’t think those event are in short supply. I mean Affluenza as a defense for murder? These would have created the foundation upon which to build before going to the far more complex (and more damaging) examples in the book. Additionally, though he hints at this heavily, Taibbi in a rare move does not come out and say that he believes racism and maintenance of the patriarchy are also a huge parts of this disparity. He seems to think the wealth gap that is the root of the problem. He thinks the wealthy don’t care about anyone. Very Bernie Sanders of him. I think the injustices and disparities are maintained by all kinds of people, not just the wealthy. And I think systemic, inbred, cultural racism, misogyny and maintenance of privilege are big pieces of those disparities. Sense of entitlement, hubris, and not suffering consequences of their actions (aka untouchable) have a lot to do with it as well. At any rate, I highly recommend this informative and influential book. Taibbi make a compelling argument and I think he’s mostly correct. I’m angry at the disparities in this country. We agree on the situation though not quite as much on the root causes...but we aren’t that far apart either. almost 4.5 Stars

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Cecile

    This should be required reading. Most people have no clue as revealed by voting patterns. Many vote against their economic best interest. Their world view is tainted by what they can "see" and what the media tells them. They can "see" someone using food stamps in line in front of them in the grocery store and be resentful. They don't "see" that Exxon gets billions in subsidies or that many corporations pay zero taxes. The average person is taught by rich people to believe they would be better of This should be required reading. Most people have no clue as revealed by voting patterns. Many vote against their economic best interest. Their world view is tainted by what they can "see" and what the media tells them. They can "see" someone using food stamps in line in front of them in the grocery store and be resentful. They don't "see" that Exxon gets billions in subsidies or that many corporations pay zero taxes. The average person is taught by rich people to believe they would be better off if only poor people weren't being unfairly enriched. As a result, poor and minority communities are subjected to policies and treatment that would never be considered for, or tolerated by, others. Taibbi does an excellent job breaking everything down.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Matt Taibbi’s 2014 call to arms is a strident message about the horrid discrepancy between justice for the rich (especially white rich) and the poor, who bear the brunt of injustices and inequalities in the justice system. Well researched but also highlighting his personality and the passion he feels for his subject, Taibbi describes how the odds are stacked against the blue collar, minority folks while white collar crime gets a much more hands off country club approach. I spent nine years doing c Matt Taibbi’s 2014 call to arms is a strident message about the horrid discrepancy between justice for the rich (especially white rich) and the poor, who bear the brunt of injustices and inequalities in the justice system. Well researched but also highlighting his personality and the passion he feels for his subject, Taibbi describes how the odds are stacked against the blue collar, minority folks while white collar crime gets a much more hands off country club approach. I spent nine years doing criminal defense work and I know how depressing one side of this argument is, but Taibbi’s focus on corporate crime made me mad about the other side of the gap too. An important book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Matt Taibbi is intelligent. Matt Taibbi is diligent. Matt Taibbi is angry. Now he has ratcheted up my anger as well. That said, I am not sure whether I should or should not thank Will Byrnes for getting me to read this book. I will ask my cardiologist. Be prepared. Taibbi piles one news story on top of an interview on top of some research to come up with a weight of evidence that sits on your chest making difficult to grab a breath. He approaches his topic of the “wealth gap” from various perspec Matt Taibbi is intelligent. Matt Taibbi is diligent. Matt Taibbi is angry. Now he has ratcheted up my anger as well. That said, I am not sure whether I should or should not thank Will Byrnes for getting me to read this book. I will ask my cardiologist. Be prepared. Taibbi piles one news story on top of an interview on top of some research to come up with a weight of evidence that sits on your chest making difficult to grab a breath. He approaches his topic of the “wealth gap” from various perspectives. - We learn about the last days of Lehman Brothers when a fair deal was brokered for their employees and their assets but that was a “fake” while another deal behind the scenes and without the knowledge of most of Lehman or its board of directors or the public was going down. - We learn how the New York Police were randomly grabbing poor people off the street , put in vans and later searched to see whether they could be charged. - We learn how major corporations use their resources to assure that there will be no criminal charges for actions that appear to cheat both individuals and the public at large. - We see how government resources are spent bringing criminal charges against “welfare cheats” who are really people trying to hold their families together with multiple jobs. Taibbi is persuasive when he argues that in the world of big money including the stock market, the bond market and commodities there is no level playing field. And, government protections are non-existent or inadequate. He calls attention to the dark world of hedge funds and to the variety of derivative scams. Those IRAs, those 401(k)s, those savings seem only to exist by luck and fate. If you don’t know the risks, you can’t evaluate them. That, says Taibbi, applies to all but the chosen elite. You can’t make things safer for you and yours. That’s scary and that is the world I now live in. Jeesh! More than 4 stars but deductions for the frequent need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This is the kind of book that I hate to love. I've read a lot of Taibbi's Rolling Stone pieces, so I knew more-or-less what to expect. For the most part, he didn't disappoint. The book subtitles itself as an exploration of the deepening schisms in American society and the ways in which they are reflected in the US system of justice. And it is that, but Taibbi's long experience writing about the criminal behavior of virtually every big bank on the planet has gotten in his head. His tales of the B This is the kind of book that I hate to love. I've read a lot of Taibbi's Rolling Stone pieces, so I knew more-or-less what to expect. For the most part, he didn't disappoint. The book subtitles itself as an exploration of the deepening schisms in American society and the ways in which they are reflected in the US system of justice. And it is that, but Taibbi's long experience writing about the criminal behavior of virtually every big bank on the planet has gotten in his head. His tales of the Big Banks' unpunished sins are far longer and much more finely-detailed than his accounts of the lives of the lower-class Americans and undocumented citizens who are digested by the US justice system on a daily basis. For the most part this has to do with the maniacal involution of the crimes the banks have committed. Their complexity would send Rube Goldberg into terminal vertigo and if I'd spent years cataloging the twisted nonsense that goes on inside the deeply criminal institutions that are using our economy like a bull on a breeding mount, I'd be washing down my Cheerios with Wild Turkey. To say I enjoyed the book would be accurate, but misleading. Closer to the truth to say that it sent me through paroxysms of fear, hatred, hope, psychosis, patriotism, mindfulness, depression, nihilism, lust, amusement, determination, arousal, indignation, angst, ecstasy, the giggles..... Read it with the lights on, because it is a horror story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Arnold

    As perhaps the most fully realized book Taibbi has written so far, The Divide retains all the markers of his signature style - the specific personal faces on abstract trends, the outraged tone, the hilariously inventive ways of insulting people - and matches them to a simple but powerful idea about how American society is quietly sorting itself into two different moral landscapes. The idea of "two Americas" is quite old, of course, but one important manifestation of our recent slide into a neo-G As perhaps the most fully realized book Taibbi has written so far, The Divide retains all the markers of his signature style - the specific personal faces on abstract trends, the outraged tone, the hilariously inventive ways of insulting people - and matches them to a simple but powerful idea about how American society is quietly sorting itself into two different moral landscapes. The idea of "two Americas" is quite old, of course, but one important manifestation of our recent slide into a neo-Gilded Age is the division between patricians and plebeians in the criminal justice system. Taibbi explains what he's seen very clearly: "There's a profound story here about what's happening to the very idea of citizenship, be it individual or corporate, in the new global economy. It used to be that citizenship in a strong and healthy state was universally prized, because citizenship confers rights. But with citizenship also comes responsibilities, and it turns out that not everybody wants those. In the minds of some, if you can get the rights without the responsibilities, you're really onto something." It's not news to say that wealthy, well-connected people play by a different set of rules than the rest of us, but it's hard to get a good feel of what that really means without both statistics and human faces to put on those numbers. Taibbi profiles people from all walks of life - single welfare moms, Wall Street investment bankers, illegal immigrants, Canadian insurance CEOs, stop-and-frisk victims, banking industry whistleblowers - and emerges with an alternately horrifying, depressing, saddening, and enraging vision of what happens when an elite class is finally able to sunder the final bonds chaining them to their fellow citizens: "We're creating a dystopia, where the mania of the state isn't secrecy or censorship but unfairness. Obsessed with success and wealth and despising failure and poverty, our society is systematically dividing the population into winners and losers, using institutions like the courts to speed the process. Winners get rich and get off. Losers go broke and go to jail. It isn't just that some clever crook on Wall Street can steal a billion dollars and never see the inside of a courtroom; it's that, plus the fact that some black teenager a few miles away can go to jail just for standing on a street corner, that makes the whole picture complete." One of the all-time greatest missed political opportunities in recent history was the way the Democratic Party failed to jail Wall Street bankers. There's a number of soul-deading quotes from President Obama and other administration officials like Eric Holder that provide the impression that this failure was by design, but it's impossible to ignore the sickening impression that those non-enforcement decisions left on people from all over the political spectrum. Much of the misplaced rage that poured into Astroturfed angry-peasant-mob organizations like the Tea Party could have been productively used for many other political causes. Instead, the US is stuck with that extremely expensive legacy for years to come. But why make that deliberate decision to annoy your base, enrage your opponents, and disgust the middle? Maybe it's just the way the system works these days: "The great nonprosecutions of Wall Street in the years since 2008, I would learn, were just symbols of this dystopian sorting process to which we'd already begun committing ourselves. The cleaving of the country into two completely different states - one a small archipelago of hyperacquisitive untouchables, the other a vast ghetto of expendables with only theoretical rights - has been in the works a long time." Anyone who's had any dealings with the police, or pays attention to crime statistics, knows that there are different rules for middle-class white people and poor minorities (though in fairness it's no fun to be poor and white either). As the lawyer of one of the poorer minorities who's been pointlessly hassled by police that Taibbi profiles explains, "Low-class people do low-class things." Once someone gets identified as a member of that sucker class, it's open season for the justice system to not only directly disrupt their lives in countless ways, by, e.g., arresting them for simply standing on the sidewalk, or ruining the lives of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants, but also suck them into the vast bureaucratic nightmare treadmill of the criminal justice system, where everything has a fee, there are countless minor obstacles to even the simplest action, and every official figure is either pitilessly unhelpful or actively malicious. Have you ever heard anyone ranting about how people on welfare need to have mandatory drug testing, when that same person considers the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate blatantly unconstitutional? How about someone who supports stop-and-frisk but can't stand the thought of the NSA listening to his phone calls? That kind of schizophrenic thinking is fully shared by the people in charge of most public agencies: "Over and over again, we hear that if you owe money in a certain way, or if you receive a certain kind of public assistance, you forfeit this or that line item in the Bill of Rights. If you're a person of means, you get full service for all ten amendments, and even a few that aren't listed. But if you owe, if you rent, you get a slightly thinner, more tubercular version of the Fourth Amendment, the First Amendment, the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and so on." So people on the inside, such as Wall Street bankers, can destroy billions in wealth with blatantly illegal market manipulation, but people on the outside, such as single welfare mothers, have to jump through endless hoops to get completely trivial amounts of money, with enforcement costs that are often far in excess of the sums in question. One thing Taibbi does that I appreciate is that he doesn't just pick "good" or politically acceptable examples of the law gone crazy. Anyone can sympathize with the guy stopped for Driving While Black, or be filled with rage at another unprosecuted Wall Street dickhead, but he also profiles cases who aren't so sympathetic, such as the struggle of Fairfax Financial against short-sellers, or the straight-from-Reagan's-central-casting case of a single methhead welfare mom with 5 kids from different dads. The reason America has two different justice systems is because a large number of Americans think the population divides neatly into successful Real Americans and deadbeat Dickensian wastrels. The steadily increasingly costs of the formidable apparatus of guard labor necessary to keep the proles safely segregated, as well as the tendency of the harsh arm of the system to continuously expand their reach into parts of society that formerly thought of themselves as on the inside means that Real America might have to cope with the consequences of their thinking sooner rather than later (though of course not before a lot of people's lives are ruined in the meantime). Taibbi is often described as a "muckraker" journalist; a telling sign, I suppose, that investigating corruption and exposing great wrongs is not what most regular "journalists" do a whole lot of these days. There are many books on economic inequality, plenty on inequities in the justice system, and still more on the perversities in our immigration system, but rarely do you see them all tied together in such a compelling way. In this book as in his others though, the only downside is that the picture of systematic injustice he draws is so all-encompassingly bleak it's difficult to imagine how it could be halted or reversed. Can we trust the same political system that created these things to uncreate them? I guess it's the only choice we have.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leftbanker

    Alongside America’s growing income gap that Matt Taibbi talks about at length in this, his best book to date, there is also a huge lack of empathy in our country. This almost complete lack of caring and understanding for the poor is what has fueled our war against them in the past 30 years or so. We have all but declared that being poor is a crime. The problem is that more and more people, people who once considered themselves immune to the ravages of poverty are now finding that they are being Alongside America’s growing income gap that Matt Taibbi talks about at length in this, his best book to date, there is also a huge lack of empathy in our country. This almost complete lack of caring and understanding for the poor is what has fueled our war against them in the past 30 years or so. We have all but declared that being poor is a crime. The problem is that more and more people, people who once considered themselves immune to the ravages of poverty are now finding that they are being chewed up and spit out by the “free market” or the “global economy” or whatever euphemism is in vogue among the conservative propagandists to describe what currently passes for an economic system in America. On the one hand, Taibbi chronicles the lives of some of the least powerful and unconnected individuals in America, and how the justice system is especially harsh in punishing them for things that no middle class poerson or above would ever be hassled about, yet the poor often serve actual jail time over these sub-misdemeanors. He mirrors these cases with the huge frauds being conducted on Wall Street in a business-as-usual mode without anyone ever being charged, let alone convicted. A lot of the problem for the financial insanity going on at the highest levels on Wall Street is that so few people in this country understand just what the hell is going on. I would wager that less than 1% of Americans could offer even the flimsiest explanation about the financial collapse of 2008 which destroyed something on the order of 30% of the net worth of (I remember Fox News making a valiant attempt to blame it all on some poor people defaulting on their home mortgages). TV news rates a solid failing mark in its coverage of financial news, and has done almost nothing to educate the public on how our system is fatally flawed and destined to crash again. The mantra being pushed by the right in America today is that the country is divided, but it isn’t between the haves and the have-nots, but rather between people who work and the moochers. After all, they aren’t called “the rich” by Republicans but “job creators.” “We built it” was their Orwellian cheer at the 2012 Republican convention, as if no one who opposes them has ever had a job. They have taken this a step further by assuming an attitude that because the rich pay more in taxes, they have more rights. We know where this story is headed because we've been there before, at at least our ancestors were there when society was divided between the royalty and the servant class.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason Mcclure

    This book should be required reading for all Americans. Matt Taibbi really illustrated the division between the rich and the poor in this country. Specifically, the way the legal system handles white collar crime and blue collar crime. He paints a vivid picture of actual instances where the nations millionaire hedge fund managers and corporate pirates repeatedly steal MILLIONS of dollars from pension funds, businesses, IRAs and Start-ups without spending any time in court (forget about actual jail This book should be required reading for all Americans. Matt Taibbi really illustrated the division between the rich and the poor in this country. Specifically, the way the legal system handles white collar crime and blue collar crime. He paints a vivid picture of actual instances where the nations millionaire hedge fund managers and corporate pirates repeatedly steal MILLIONS of dollars from pension funds, businesses, IRAs and Start-ups without spending any time in court (forget about actual jail time). On the other end of the legal spectrum, he illustrates instances of our legal system punishing homeless people, welfare recipients, and legal aliens into a permanent poverty with a dash of oppressive legal battles and fees. He draws a vivid illustration showing how our system is made to keep poor people down and let rich people off the hook. Really, truly amazing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Why the US prison population is brimming while the crime rate is declining and why there have been no Wall Street prosecutions in the aftermath of the swindle that destroyed homes and savings had not been explained to my satisfaction until I read this book. Matt Taibbi presents the structures, culture and attitudes that ensnare poor and mostly minority Americans for petty "crimes" and contrasts them to the parallel structures, culture and attitudes that allow white collar perpetrators to go unpu Why the US prison population is brimming while the crime rate is declining and why there have been no Wall Street prosecutions in the aftermath of the swindle that destroyed homes and savings had not been explained to my satisfaction until I read this book. Matt Taibbi presents the structures, culture and attitudes that ensnare poor and mostly minority Americans for petty "crimes" and contrasts them to the parallel structures, culture and attitudes that allow white collar perpetrators to go unpunished. This contrast, "The Divide", is staggering. "Lying" on a welfare application about whether you have 3 days of food in your home is prosecuted as fraud, but lying that you certified credit card statements (when you signed thousands of these in an hour) is not. Probable cause is considered before searching corporate officers and offices, while fourth amendment protections for the poor and minorities have all but vanished. A slight display of "attitude" in an unwarranted search can lead to an arrest, a felony charge, a jail sentence and a changed life. Meanwhile, prosecutors defend their three cents on a dollar company paid settlements for very large crimes with no consequences for the people who engineered and carried out the theft. There are very clear descriptions of complex issues such as the evolution of "collateral consequences" (the consideration of potential damage to the economy or the firm's other employees in a decision of whether or not to prosecute) from Eric Holder's memo in the 1990's to its practice today. There are clear histories of the demise of Lehman Brothers, how Fourth Amendment rights have been chipped away through judicial balancing of "rights and need", the acceptance of the practice of "gutter service" (court summonses that are not necessarily delivered) and more. The examples are far reaching on the business side from mortgage fraud, to the extreme tactics of those who short stocks to the way credit card debt is bought, sold and criminalized. On the people side the examples show how a simple, and unfair, police stop runs into lost work time/wages at work, potential jail time and a fine that cannot be afforded. You learn what happens over the Mexican border after undocumented workers are deported. There is a lot of information here. It fittingly begins with the story of the Abacus Bank, the only financial institution prosecuted with actual consequences in the aftermath of the swindle that almost destroyed the US economy. The story is perfect, the bank is small, no loans defaulted but some loan applicants "lied" on their mortgage applications. Taibbi shows how the poor and small businesses are vulnerable to system that calls for results such as police quotas and prosecutorial wins. There is a bit of hope at the end, as Taibbi cites a tough new Justice Department appointee, but it seems like a drop in the proverbial bucket. This book should be required reading for those in police academies and law schools. It won't be, because like the loiterer who goes to jail, it's too easy to label the writer and besides, it doesn't have an index or proper (footnote) documentation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Honestly torn between giving a 4 or 2 star review, so I'll just go with the average. The message the author was trying to hammer home was very clear, and it speaks well to the book to remain perfectly focused on spreading this message. He lets you know straight up how he feels about the problem and about those he believes that both caused the problem and those who essentially do nothing about it. And if you fully agree with him, the book is an enticing read and will captivate you as well as galva Honestly torn between giving a 4 or 2 star review, so I'll just go with the average. The message the author was trying to hammer home was very clear, and it speaks well to the book to remain perfectly focused on spreading this message. He lets you know straight up how he feels about the problem and about those he believes that both caused the problem and those who essentially do nothing about it. And if you fully agree with him, the book is an enticing read and will captivate you as well as galvanize you against the culprits painted within the text. However, in a more objective light, the book falls a bit short on its goals. While the book and author do a good job poking at your emotions, the book is actually just a composition of borderline sob stories designed to tear at your heart and stories of the inner workings of the financial sector told from someone who has already made up his mind of who's evil. The problem of these borderline sob stories aren't the stories themselves, it's the fact that they are supposed to be the bulk of his argument while the actual facts and numbers are tossed in as an afterthought. And speaking of numbers and facts, there were barely any citations to back up most of his claims nor was there even an index. I do not doubt the veracity of his research nor the amount he put into it, but the serious lack of citations to his hard research paint this book as more of a op-ed than something someone could learn anything from. But maybe that was the author's goal all along, and if it was he did an excellent opinion piece.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    This is a brilliantly readable take on systemically enforced inequality in America, particularly the failure to jail any banksters after the 2008 crash.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    If you're trying to achieve a deeper sense of calm in your life, stay far, far away from Matt Taibbi's The Divide, a trenchant portrait of how America's terrible income gap has seen a concurrent widening of its even-more-terrible "justice gap". Basically: the rich are not only getting much, much richer, they're also getting away with (metaphoric) murder ALL DAY EVERY DAY; while the poor, as always, are getting fucked, though now more routinely, more efficiently, and with more devastating consequ If you're trying to achieve a deeper sense of calm in your life, stay far, far away from Matt Taibbi's The Divide, a trenchant portrait of how America's terrible income gap has seen a concurrent widening of its even-more-terrible "justice gap". Basically: the rich are not only getting much, much richer, they're also getting away with (metaphoric) murder ALL DAY EVERY DAY; while the poor, as always, are getting fucked, though now more routinely, more efficiently, and with more devastating consequences than ever. If you've ever read Taibbi, you know he doesn't even try to hide his disgust with and outrage over the horrible things he uncovers, whether it's a bunch of hedge fund guys walking away from massive crimes of fraud--deliberate crimes that have directly ruined thousands of people's lives--mostly because the government is too much in awe of their wealth and the packs of lawyers they throw at any charges; or, HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME, IN THE SAME COUNTRY, the vast amount of state and federal resources dedicated to rooting out, for example, "welfare cheats", via an army of fraud patrol-people who invade people's homes and, in one particularly rage-inducing story, go through a single mother's underwear drawer and accuse her of lying about not having a boyfriend because her panties are too sexy, and then denying her (and her child) $300 a month in food stamps. Taibbi's reporting is detailed and deep, and, especially in the chapters dealing with the poor-people side of the equation, a revelation. Things like the ways municipalities bully immigrants as a matter of policy, and the whole Stop and Frisk travesty, and the way local governments use the poor as town/city ATMs... it's the untold story of poor people everywhere, mostly blacks and hispanics, who get hauled into jail, literal freaking jail, and given ridiculous fines (and THEN deported, if applicable) for crimes that rich white people commit all the time every day with ZERO fear of any punishment or consequence. I found his chapters on rich people less gripping--included here, for instance, is a blow-by-blow account of the fall of Lehman Brothers, and how the top executives literally stole hundreds of millions of dollars in the eleventh hour of the "deal" with Barclays, and then even though they were caught doing so, received NO PUNISHMENT WHATSOEVER because the prosecutors just couldn't deal with doing the work to put them in jail--but mostly because I've read a lot about these assholes before. Anywho, we live in a country that systematically sneers at, brutalizes, and incarcerates the people who need the MOST help, while idolizing and extending every possible effort to ease the life of the rich fuckers who do nothing but screw us all. And pretty much NOBODY seems to care. AAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    The Divide is the most current and the most important as it shows, to crudely paraphrase Taibbi’s thesis, the move of America towards a dystopia. An oligarchy that is criminalizing being poor by intertwining the social safety net with law enforcement and refusal to prosecute financial crimes criminally (only seeking fines). Taibbi gives us a tour of the bureaucracy of welfare, stop and frisk, immigration laws of Georgia, and other stops. He uses situations that seem worthy of the fiction of Hell The Divide is the most current and the most important as it shows, to crudely paraphrase Taibbi’s thesis, the move of America towards a dystopia. An oligarchy that is criminalizing being poor by intertwining the social safety net with law enforcement and refusal to prosecute financial crimes criminally (only seeking fines). Taibbi gives us a tour of the bureaucracy of welfare, stop and frisk, immigration laws of Georgia, and other stops. He uses situations that seem worthy of the fiction of Heller and Kafka, bureaucracy gone amuck, serving only its illogical needs. Then he counters this with the inadequate prosecuting of financial crimes. HSBC bank can launder $100 million for the mass murders in the Sinaloa cartel without a single person going to jail but a homeless man caught with a single joint gets to serve 40 days in jail. Case by case Taibbi goes through this surreal tilting of justice.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Book

    The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi “The Divide” is an eye-opening book that paints a clear picture of what is the biggest divide in our society, the wealth gap. Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi takes the reader on a journey of social injustice. Through a series of heartbreaking stories, Taibbi clearly shows the impact that this divide has on our citizens from each perspective. This troubling 448-page book includes the following nine chapters: 1. Uninten The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi “The Divide” is an eye-opening book that paints a clear picture of what is the biggest divide in our society, the wealth gap. Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi takes the reader on a journey of social injustice. Through a series of heartbreaking stories, Taibbi clearly shows the impact that this divide has on our citizens from each perspective. This troubling 448-page book includes the following nine chapters: 1. Unintended Consequences, 2. Frisk and Stop, 3. The Man Who Couldn’t Stand Up, 4. The Greatest Bank Robbery You Never Heard Of, 5. Border Trouble, Part 1, 6. Border Trouble, Part 2, 7. Little Frauds, 8. Big Frauds, and 9. Collateral Consequences. Positives: 1. Engaging, well-written, well-researched book that is accessible to the masses. 2. Even handed, equal-opportunity critique. Taibbi has his style of writing that consists of passion, sharp tone, and very descriptive. His interviewees take center stage and help him tell a compelling story of social injustice. 3. An excellent and an important topic, inequality and how it is manifested. “We still have real jury trials, honest judges, and free elections, all the superficial characteristics of a functional, free democracy. But underneath that surface is a florid and malevolent bureaucracy that mostly (not absolutely, but mostly) keeps the rich and the poor separate through thousands of tiny, scarcely visible inequities.” 4. This book is about inequality shown through a series of real-life examples. Taibbi removes the fog and shows what is really happening. “We’re creating a dystopia, where the mania of the state isn’t secrecy or censorship but unfairness. Obsessed with success and wealth and despising failure and poverty, our society is systematically dividing the population into winners and losers, using institutions like the courts to speed the process. Winners get rich and get off. Losers go broke and go to jail. It isn’t just that some clever crook on Wall Street can steal a billion dollars and never see the inside of a courtroom; it’s that, plus the fact that some black teenager a few miles away can go to jail just for standing on a street corner, that makes the whole picture complete.” 5. The consequences of legislation. “Moreover, even within the United States there had been intentional, lobbied-for changes in corporate structure: the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had prevented the mergers of commercial banks, investment banks, and insurance companies (this repeal led to the creation of megafirms like Citigroup), and Supreme Court decisions rolling back bans on interstate banking (which led to a string of mergers, resulting in the formation of giant national banks like Wachovia and Bank of America). In the finance sector at least, these changes allowed companies to be more enormous and difficult to regulate than they ever had been before.” 6. Doesn’t mince words about financial fraud. “Specifically, this was a massive criminal fraud scheme, something akin to a giant counterfeiting operation, in which banks mass-produced extremely risky, low-quality subprime mortgages and with lightning-quick efficiency sold them off to institutional sucker-investors as highly rated AAA bonds. The hot potato game targeted unions, pension funds, and government-backed mortgage companies like Fannie Mae on the secondary market.” 7. A look at the infuriating stop-and-frisk abuse. “In 2011, the year before Tory got arrested, another year when exactly nobody on Wall Street was arrested for crimes connected to the financial crisis, New York City police stopped and searched a record 684,724 people. Out of those, 88 percent were black or Hispanic.” 8. An interesting and troubling look at the legal system in practice and how it applies to the poor. “Prosecutors won’t say so openly, but privately, they will admit that when their cases are weak, they drive their cases through this Lincoln Tunnel of a procedural loophole, dragging things out as long as possible to force a plea. It usually works.” 9. How the legal system applies to banks. “Big banks get caught committing crimes, at worst they pay a big fine. Instead of going to jail, a check gets written, and it comes out of the pockets of shareholders, not the individuals responsible.” 10. Taibbi makes a compelling argument that the most outrageous and damning behaviors are conducted in such a way that it’s too complex to define. “The real issue wasn’t legal or illegal? But seen or unseen? While some of the most dangerous behaviors in American big business were indeed against the law, they were often, more importantly, outside the law, executed in an undefined legal space, in darkness.” “You can’t police what you can’t see, and you can’t see in the dark.” 11. One of the best examples of outrageous, irresponsible behaviors of banks is illustrated through the Lehman story. “The creditors were thrust face-first into the immovable principle that underlies everything modern that Wall Street does: if a crime is complicated enough, and sanctified by enough “reputable” attorneys and accountants, then American law enforcement will inevitably be too slow or too weak to stop it.” 12. The compelling argument for a permanent oligarchical bailout state. “The deals the government and Wall Street worked out that weekend to save the likes of AIG, Goldman, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch were unprecedented in their reach and political consequence, transforming America into a permanent oligarchical bailout state. This was, essentially, a formal merger of Wall Street and the U.S. government.” 13. A look at immigration. “(Gainesville) This small Georgia city is ground zero for enforcement of a ferocious federal immigration rule called 287(g) that essentially deputizes any and all state and local law enforcement officials to arrest undocumented aliens on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).” “So the undocumented alien who kills a room full of Rotarians with an ax has a right to counsel, a phone call, and protection against improper searches. The alien caught crossing the street on his way to work has no rights at all.” 14. A look at the corrections industry. “The jailing-Hispanics business is the perfect mix of politics and profit. Companies like CCA donate generously to politicians everywhere, particularly at the state level. The firm has spent as much as $3.4 million lobbying in a single year and on average spends between $1 million and $2 million a year. Its lobbyists are everywhere, and in every major anti-immigrant bill, you can usually find a current or former CCA lobbyist lurking in the weeds somewhere. Arizona governor Jan Brewer, for instance, had two ex–CCA lobbyists on her staff helping write the legislation when she pushed through her notorious 1070 law, which essentially legalized racial profiling in the cause of catching illegal immigrants.” 15. One of the most disturbing tales in the annals of Wall Street, the Fairfax story. “The Fairfax fiasco is a tale of harassment on a grand scale, in which the cream of America’s corporate culture followed executives, burgled information from private bank accounts, researched the Canadians’ sexual preferences for blackmail purposes, broke into hotel rooms and left threatening messages, prank-called a cancer-stricken woman in the middle of the night, and even harassed the pastor of the staid Anglican church where the Canadian CEO worshipped on Sundays.” 16. Startling facts. “There are no real regulatory audits of hedge funds, and no government body checks hedge funds’ trades or verifies their claims. It even came out, in the famous Bernie Madoff case, that despite numerous complaints to the SEC over the years from reputable sources, nobody in the government even checked to make sure Madoff’s hedge fund even made trades at all. Madoff actually went more than thirteen years without making a single stock purchase and yet somehow survived several SEC investigations—that’s how flimsy government regulation of hedge funds has been and still is.” 17. A look at programs such as Project 100% (P100) that investigated welfare fraud cases. “P100 generates, by the thousand, stories that sound like testimonials culled from refugees of some distant, low-rent, third-world despotate. The stories are terrible, humiliating, abusive.” “So the standard is, anyone who receives aid from taxpayers forgoes his rights, because the state has a “strong interest” in rooting out fraud.” “Twenty-six billion dollars of fraud: no felony cases. But when the stakes are in the hundreds of dollars, we kick in 26,000 doors a year, in just one county.” 18. Case involving GOP candidate John Kasich. “For instance, in 2011, the state of Ohio—the same state that lost tens of millions in the early 2000s when its pension fund bought severely overpriced mortgage-backed securities from a Lehman Brothers banker named John Kasich, who would later become governor—tried to recoup some of its losses by sending out 22,000 notices to Ohioans seeking “overpayments” in either welfare or food stamps.” 19. The whistleblower case of Linda Almonte. “In Riverside, California, you get a hundred bucks and a thank-you for bringing a fraud case to light. When you scratch the same civic itch at JPMorgan Chase, you lose everything you own and end up living the life of a financial fugitive. Linda and her kids, when I met them, seemed like a family on the run.” 20. Unequal justice. “The problem is, if the law is applied unequally enough over a long enough period of time, at some point, law enforcement becomes politically illegitimate. Whole classes of arrests become (circle one) illegal, improper, morally unenforceable.” Negatives: 1. At over 400 pages it requires a commitment of your time. 2. Some of Taibbi’s outrage may be overblown. “The attorney general of the United States had just admitted, in front of a room full of reporters, that he asks Wall Street for advice before he prosecutes Wall Street.” Is that really deserving of outrage? I consider it research, which by the way is what Taibbi does so well for his own books. 3. Taibbi does a fantastic job of describing the problems but no much delving into potential solutions. I would have added a chapter on solutions by the subject matter experts. 4. No formal bibliography and no notes. 5. Very few charts and visual material to complement the narrative. 6. It’s a very good book to help you understand through stories what’s at the heart of the divide, however, it’s not as good as a quick reference. In summary, this is a very good book on social injustice, inequality. Through a series of stories Taibbi illustrates clearly what’s at the heart of our social divide. It’s infuriating to see how this divide takes place in America; the rich get away with crimes that have far bigger ramifications on our society and in doing so causes the law in many respects to lose its legitimacy. My biggest complaint about the book is the lack of references and supplementary material. A very interesting read, I recommend it! Further suggestions: “Inequality” by Anthony B. Atkinson, “The Economics of Inequality” by Thomas Piketty, “The Great Divide” by Joseph Stiglitz, “Winner-Take All Politics” by Jacob S. Hacker, “The Great Escape” by Angus Deaton, “Screwed the Undeclared War Against the Middle Class” by Thom Hartmann, “The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America…” by Michael W. Hudson, “Perfectly Legal…” by David Cay Johnston, “The Looting of America” by Les Leopold and “The Great American Stickup” by Robert Scheer.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kurt

    The economic crash of 2008 brought the term "too big to fail" into common usage. This book describes how it came to be that huge financial companies are able to break the law with impunity in order to cheat and steal billions from the public at large. While the judicial and law enforcement systems in this country expend huge amounts of efforts at taxpayer expense to punish the most meager of offenses by the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society – those who completely lack the means to fig The economic crash of 2008 brought the term "too big to fail" into common usage. This book describes how it came to be that huge financial companies are able to break the law with impunity in order to cheat and steal billions from the public at large. While the judicial and law enforcement systems in this country expend huge amounts of efforts at taxpayer expense to punish the most meager of offenses by the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society – those who completely lack the means to fight back or defend themselves, those same systems, along with our political and financial systems, simultaneously ignore, overlook, and even promote wholesale fraud and theft by the most wealthy of corporations and individuals. The result is an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, which I believe will one day lead to an inevitable and disastrous conflict. This was not an enjoyable read. Many of the financial and legal technicalities were over my head and (in my opinion) too detailed, but the overall message is very clear, very well researched, and very disturbing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maukan

    My first book by this author and definitely not my last. Finally a book devoted to the insanely corrupt criminal justice system of America in comparison to the wealthiest pirates (bankers) and Wall Street douches. How “investigators” burst into the homes of welfare recipients and actively search for any evidence to show of falsifying documents.... Yeah man the single mom who got 300$ in food stamps is really what we need to be paying attention too not the bankers who destroyed pensions, homes an My first book by this author and definitely not my last. Finally a book devoted to the insanely corrupt criminal justice system of America in comparison to the wealthiest pirates (bankers) and Wall Street douches. How “investigators” burst into the homes of welfare recipients and actively search for any evidence to show of falsifying documents.... Yeah man the single mom who got 300$ in food stamps is really what we need to be paying attention too not the bankers who destroyed pensions, homes and 40% of the global wealth... Who then got bonuses. How do banks that launder money to the cartel, terrorists and and the mafia get off with paying a fine but the dude who had a gram of weed in his pocket is thrown into jail? This book eloquently dismantles the criminal justice system. How it overtly targets the very poor and lets the mega rich sail away in their yacht. It goes into detail how the mega rich swindle billions, only to do a simple cost benefit analysis and realize the fine is a small percentage of the money we earned illegally and get this... No jail time and no admission of wrong doing. A sweet deal. This book and the prose was refreshing, nicely explained and while bankers gutted retirement accounts and almost half of the worlds wealth none of them went jail but a guy smoking a joint just two blocks away from some of the biggest thieves that would have made the ocean elevens crew envious.. get no jail time? This was a fantastic book. 5 stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    A society hyper-normalized to use individual wealth to measure success tends to accept and often promote inequality. But you might reply: what's wrong with inequality, are you just envious of people better than you? Thankfully, Taibbi has the patience to play your game by tossing it back in your face. Here's what a two-tier society looks like in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Give it a go before you resume your boot-licking. ...I must be channeling my inner Taibbi. Hopefully, thi A society hyper-normalized to use individual wealth to measure success tends to accept and often promote inequality. But you might reply: what's wrong with inequality, are you just envious of people better than you? Thankfully, Taibbi has the patience to play your game by tossing it back in your face. Here's what a two-tier society looks like in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Give it a go before you resume your boot-licking. ...I must be channeling my inner Taibbi. Hopefully, this opens the doors to explore global inequality and the history of inequality and egalitarianism. Great resources include Vijay Prashad, David Graeber, Silvia Federici, Michael Parenti, Michael Perelman...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I thought I knew everything that was in this book because I follow all of these issues very closely so I was putting off reading the book. I'm so glad I finally got to it. This is fantastic writing and the juxtaposition of the stories really brings it home in a way that reading about this stuff academically never will. Highly recommended. Will make your blood boil, but in a good way. I thought I knew everything that was in this book because I follow all of these issues very closely so I was putting off reading the book. I'm so glad I finally got to it. This is fantastic writing and the juxtaposition of the stories really brings it home in a way that reading about this stuff academically never will. Highly recommended. Will make your blood boil, but in a good way.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    It will piss you off but you need to be pissed off over the situations highlighted in this book. Read it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Some books about current and/or political events become quickly dated. Even though "The Divide" by Matt Taibbi is now six years old, it is as important today as ever. Taibbi is an award-winning journalist and writer. He tackles some of the most important issues of our time. In "The Divide", he documents in vivid detail the unequal treatment rendered to the powerful (rich) and the powerless (poor) in the United States justice system in the twenty-first century. His research is amazing and his wri Some books about current and/or political events become quickly dated. Even though "The Divide" by Matt Taibbi is now six years old, it is as important today as ever. Taibbi is an award-winning journalist and writer. He tackles some of the most important issues of our time. In "The Divide", he documents in vivid detail the unequal treatment rendered to the powerful (rich) and the powerless (poor) in the United States justice system in the twenty-first century. His research is amazing and his writing is captivating. Taibbi's writing style is hard-hitting and pointed. Both political parties and each administration in his time-frame (Clinton, Bush, and Obama) bare huge responsibility for this mess. I can only imagine with dread what all new is going on in the Trump administration as the wealth gap further expands. At least 4.5 stars, highly recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ron Davidson

    Written by one of the few real journalists left in the United States, the book gives a thorough description of the inherent injustice of the American justice system. In a society where, to use the infamous expression, "greed is good," and virtue is defined by dollar figures, where the poor are treated with contempt -- guilty of something, usually just being poor -- Taibbi succeeds in showing how these injustices have been incorporated into the system, to benefit the rich and powerful and persecu Written by one of the few real journalists left in the United States, the book gives a thorough description of the inherent injustice of the American justice system. In a society where, to use the infamous expression, "greed is good," and virtue is defined by dollar figures, where the poor are treated with contempt -- guilty of something, usually just being poor -- Taibbi succeeds in showing how these injustices have been incorporated into the system, to benefit the rich and powerful and persecute the poor and the weak. When a working class man (with the "wrong" color skin) can get arrested for socializing with neighbors on the sidewalk outside his home, and the bankers who laundered money for Mexican drug cartels get no punishment at all, you know that something is wrong here. Matt Taibbi is one of the best investigative journalists on the planet today: one who remembers that the role of journalism is to investigate important stories, even when -- especially when -- the evidence shows the corruption of the powerful. Today, we have "journalists" working for the major networks and other news organizations more concerned with getting invited to the right parties, than investigating the crimes of those who host the parties. (They don't call him "Dancing Dave" Gregory for nothing,to give one example.) Some of the financial reporting in the book went a bit over my head, but as the author notes, the complexity of the financial industry is a feature, not a bug, for the fraudsters, of which we have many. Despite this, on the whole, the book was an interesting read, if you don't mind having your blood boil. There was less of the sarcasm and wit that Taibbi is known for, but I suppose it is hard to joke about this level of injustice. Still, it is a great book from a great journalist -- who should be read more than he is now.

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