Rich People Things

Chris Lehmann, Author
Chris Lehmann, OR Books (www.orbooks.com), $16 trade paper (239p) ISBN 978-1-935928-12-6
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Lehmann began his economic blog inspired by "the omission of real economic conditions from the accounting of the republic's collective life." Now in book form, and helped by Peter Arkle's drawings, Lehmann illustrates the ideas, institutions, and individuals he sees as tools for the rich to keep themselves rich—or make themselves richer. The list of offenders includes the U.S. Constitution, the iPad, Reality TV, and The New York Times (in particular, columnist David Brooks). The author explores meritocracy, class warfare, the "powerful intellectual opiate" called the free market, and other "hoary American myths." Chapters include a description of Atlas Shrugged as a "doorstop-sized digest of ideological boilerplate disguised as fictional dialogue, plotting, and character development" and memoirs, or "memoirs," (James Frey makes the list) that allow affluent readers to "cast one's fellow citizens as monolithically soulful, suffering, and exoticized others." Lehmann concludes his wholly entertaining effort with a particularly astute explanation of how the myth of the middle class has left Americans with an inadequate vocabulary to discuss economic woes; instead, "we are committed to the dogmatic belief that we are all affluent entrepreneurs waiting to happen." Brutal. (Oct. 15)
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