Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets by Peter Schweizer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How many times have you heard a local candidate state that they’re running as a Washington outsider who aims to “clean up the system”? And yet, year after year, we find that nothing in Washington really ever changes, as those outsiders always seem to be quickly absorbed and corrupted by the system they pledged to overhaul.
I’ve long been an advocate for term limits for Congress because of the influence of special interest groups. It is believed by many that special interest groups have corrupted our politicians, making them especially susceptible to being bought.
However, in his book “Extortion”, Peter Schweizer paints a much uglier and troubling picture than I had imagined. Schweizer outlines a system in which the Permanent Political Class (i.e. congressmen & congresswomen) aren’t being bought as much as they are using their influence to extort money from corporations in a mafioso-like scheme that boils down to an elaborate protection scheme. And it’s all perfectly legal.
With pain-staking detail and specific examples, Schweizer explains exactly how congressional leaders use and abuse their influence to milk large corporations and industry executives to contribute to their campaigns and PACs.
Schweizer also outlines the many ways congressional leaders make money off the system – from loaning their campaigns personal funds from which they extract insanely large amounts of usury, to using PAC money for lavish trips and personal expenditures.
I’ve always wondered how career politicians were able to become lavishly wealthy on the meager salaries they receive. Schweizer will open your eyes to how they do it, demonstrating the many different ways politicians are milking the system, milking corporations and rewarding friends and family….all for personal and political gain.
This book is well-researched and the foot-notes are extensive. Schweizer holds nothing back and gives examples from both sides of the aisle.
This is one of those books that is both good and bad. It’s good in that it’s well written and well-researched and very interesting to read as Schweizer navigates the reader through specific bills and laws and shows how the shake downs work.
But it’s also bad in the sense that, if you’re like me, you’ll finish this book with an extremely sick feeling in your stomach as you realize that the depth of greed and corruption from career politicians is much deeper than maybe you had previously thought!