Historical precedents loudly indicated that the financial meltdown of 2008 and the bailouts that followed would result in a turn against laissez faire and the Wall Street status quo. Instead, as Thomas Frank summarizes in his new book, Pity the Billionaire (Henry Holt and Company), the Tea Party movement and others on the right used their justified anger over the collapse and bailouts to argue, for instance, that a disaster born in part from decades of deregulation demanded, in response, more deregulation. The markets had never been free enough, went the argument; government was always the problem, especially with "socialists" in the White House. Frank spends too much time lambasting marginal documents, and his crowd-pleasing takedowns of Glenn Beck are tiresome, but he's frequently witty and incisive. He's especially persuasive on how the Obama administration—in pursuing Bush's bailout path in its response to the debt-ceiling debate—has continually "compromised in the direction of Wall Street, as though that was who needed to be mollified." The book was finished too early to consider the Occupy movement, but Frank will likely have much to say about that during the Q&A.
Tue., Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2012