Learsy (Over a Barrel, 2007) offers a chronological and critical perspective on the power wielded by Big Oil and Wall Street.
According to this compilation of Learsy’s writings for the Huffington Post over a five-year period, the nation’s economic health is essentially controlled by the petroleum and financial industries. Learsy’s searing criticism of these companies goes so far as to suggest that they, in collusion with the federal government, essentially created the country’s recent financial meltdown. The book is well-organized into logical sections, “Enemies Foreign” (in particular, OPEC), “Enemies Domestic” (including Big Oil and Wall Street) and “How We Can Fight Back,” which addresses the strategic petroleum reserve, our appetite for oil consumption and alternate energy sources. These essays may strike some as largely left-leaning, but one cannot argue with the author’s ability to identify and document the free reign given to oil companies and the transgressions of financial firms. His analysis of Big Oil’s influence during the George W. Bush years is particularly insightful. Learsy is refreshingly blunt. His indignation is palpable, as in this statement from a 2010 piece: “Where is the outrage here? Where are our vigilant Congress, our administration, our somnolent justice department and Federal Trade Commission while the oil boys are taking us to the cleaners?” In a 2009 essay about the Wall Street implosion, Learsy writes that the United States’ “creative vision and sense of fair play are being destroyed by vested interests that have stacked the deck so consistently and successfully as to destroy the meritocracy’s credibility altogether.” Learsy skewers Big Oil, Wall Street and the government alike, though he concedes there are no easy solutions to what has become an endemic problem. In his afterword, he says, “Too many people and interests have too much at stake in the status quo—both financially and in terms of their power of influence.” While Learsy’s commentary is unrelentingly harsh, it does represent an eloquent call to arms.
On-target insights that will illuminate and enrage the average citizen.