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Unchecked Capitalism is Killing Us!
The purpose of the book is to educate the reader about the extent of corruption, greed, and lobbying activities that occur in Washington between our elected officials and major corporations, their lobbyists, the wealthy and special interests. These activities started gradually in the 1980's when businesses learned they could get their way by "spreading money" around in Washington. It has grown to such an extent over these last 40 years that our nation is no longer a democracy; it is governed by those who can corrupt our elected leaders with donations and bribes.
Reviews
Rynerson’s thorough, fierce, nonpartisan attack on contemporary capitalism emphasizes the pernicious influence that corporate power has on the daily lives of average Americans. Comparing the population to the archetypal frog who doesn’t recognize it’s gradually being boiled alive, Rynerson notes that, since the Reagan revolution, regulations on corporations have slowly eroded, allowing them to achieve ever greater profit at the expense of the public, a trend only exacerbated by the globalization of the Clinton era. Without restrictions, “unfettered corporate greed” is unleashed, which leads to corporations corrupting government policy. Rynerson presents an exhaustive list of charges of illegal activity by banks and other companies; he offers evidence of auto companies deliberately stifling innovation; and he charts the alarming history of pharmaceutical companies directly writing legislation to prevent Medicare from negotiating prices for medicine.

Rynerson's arguments prove most persuasive when focused on specific examples of corruption, such as his spirited takedown of the lobbying industry, in which he connects various powerful lobbies to their influence on specific members of Congress. At times, he overreaches, not addressing issues like race and poverty when urging readers to buy electric cars and healthier groceries, or loosely linking the treatment decisions made by oncologists to corruption elsewhere in the medical industry, such as pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to sell opioids. While most of his arguments are easy to follow, they sometimes get swallowed in the avalanche of outrages and references, a tendency that also dulls the righteous power of his anger.

“Unfortunately, corporate control of our nation became complete in 2010,” he laments in a discussion of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited election spending from wealthy donors. Rynerson makes that case with such clear fury that, perhaps inevitably, the solutions he offers (idealistic fixes like the creation of a new, centrist political party, individual-focused changes like eating less sugar) come up short. Still, Rynerson's passion and outrage raise urgent, thought-provoking questions.

Takeaway: A no-holds-barred attack on unchecked corporate power in American.

Great for fans of: David Dayen’s Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, Christopher Leonard’s kochland.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: C
Marketing copy: B

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