Tags: Taibbi | justice | criminal | financial

Matt Taibbi Takes on the Justice System

By    |   Friday, 05 Sep 2014 07:37 AM

Matt Taibbi, a journalist with First Look Media and former contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine, has already written several books and provided extensive and trenchant commentary on the ongoing financial crisis. Recently he presented his book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap before an audience at Free Public Library of Louisville, Ky., where a good-sized crowd gave Taibbi an enthusiastic ovation.

A second-generation journalist, Taibbi has received the National Magazine Award for his columns in Rolling Stone, but has also been criticized for lampooning the deaths of a pope and of conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart.

Books decrying income inequality seem to be published daily, mostly by left-wing writers, especially since the socialist Michael Harrington wrote The Other America in 1962. Spoiler alert: That's not what this book is about.

The book is not about injustice as a metaphor for the disparity in wealth between the so-called 1 percenters at the top of the income distribution versus the masses of people trying to scrape by on three minimum-wage jobs. No, this is literally a book about the disparity between the way the criminal justice system works to sweep up and punish people who live a marginal existence and are swept up by police who themselves are under pressure to fulfill quotas by picking up a given number of petty criminals, issuing a required number of summonses and recovering a specified number of weapons and quantity of drugs.

Taibbi explained that he had re-written the back story of the book, because it was not totally honest. He said it began as "a classic example of when journalists get lazy." He was essentially stumbling into what became the financial crisis beat while attending the 2008 Republican convention in Minneapolis, watching the crisis break across his screen, suddenly getting assigned to cover it, and learning from a trader that the way to analyze it was as a crime wave rather than as an economic event. (His experience contrasts completely with that of this writer, who by 2008 had been working on the financial crisis for 35 years and found confirmation in the fact that observers from such different backgrounds reaching the same conclusion.)

According to Taibbi there are two virtual parallel universes in the way criminal justice is administered respectively for people who are swept up like tuna, hauled onto "factory boats" and then "canned" by a system calibrated to impose fines and sentences just long enough to keep them incarcerated and unable to earn a living, care for their families or even stay in the country versus Wall Street bankers who are allowed to pay token fines, remain free on bail in the unlikely event they are ever charged and continue to engage in practices that they have promised never to do again as part of routine settlements and deferred prosecution agreements.

In one case Taibbi described, a major international bank convicted of laundering money for drug kingpins had specially designed teller windows to accommodate passing bags of cash.

Taibbi laid out his case in remarkable detail. The only point that could make readers and viewers even more enraged would be if they realized that the fines themselves are effectively, if somewhat indirectly, funded by the government.

(Archived video can be found here.)

© 2017 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Robert-Feinberg
Matt Taibbi, a journalist with First Look Media and former contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine, recently presented his book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap before an audience at Free Public Library of Louisville, Ky.
Taibbi, justice, criminal, financial
547
2014-37-05
Friday, 05 Sep 2014 07:37 AM
Newsmax Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
MONEYNEWS.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved