Top Quotes by Thomas Frank

By | January 16, 2019

A lot of populists after populism died just became socialists. At the beginning of the 20th century, socialism looked like it was going to take off. It didn’t, of course, but a lot of people thought it was going to.

Thomas Frank

Money never seems to be interested in strengthening regulatory agencies, for example, but always in subverting them, in making them miss the danger signs in coal mines and in derivatives trading and in deep-sea oil wells.

Thomas Frank

Acknowledging class was always difficult for ‘New Democrats’ – it was second-wave, it was divisive – but 2008 made retro politics cool again.

Thomas Frank

The great fear that hung over the business community in the 1970s was death by regulation, and the great goal of the conservative movement, as it rose to triumph in the 1980s, was to remove that threat – to keep OSHA, the EPA, and the FTC from choking off entrepreneurship with their infernal meddling in the marketplace.

Thomas Frank

For-profit higher education is today a booming industry, feeding on the student loans handed out to the desperate.

Thomas Frank

I think there’s great potential for autonomy, but we have to remember that we live in a world where people may have free will but have not invented their circumstances.

Thomas Frank

We the people say it loud and clear every Election Day, in high-crime periods as well as peaceful stretches – More of our population needs to be behind bars.

Thomas Frank

Most of Roosevelt’s innovations have been the law of the land for 70 years now, and yet we are still a free society free enough, that is, to allow tens of thousands of protesters to gather on the National Mall and to broadcast their slogans and speeches to the world via C-SPAN.

Thomas Frank

There is no higher claim to journalistic integrity than going to jail to protect a source.

Thomas Frank

It is always a disappointment to turn from forthright consideration of some subject – whether from the Left or the Right, a poet or a plumber – to the Beltway version, in which the only aspects of the issue that matter are the effects it will have on the fortunes of the two parties and the various men in power.

Thomas Frank

One of the things I keep coming back to in my writing is that society doesn’t work on this mirror principle, you don’t have an exact replica on the left of what you have on the right. It just doesn’t work that way.

Thomas Frank

Concerns about the size and role of government are what seem to leave reformers stammering and speechless in town-hall meetings. The right wants to have a debate over fundamental principles; elected Democrats seem incapable of giving it to them.

Thomas Frank

There is something uniquely depressing about the fact that the National Portrait Gallery’s version of the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster previously belonged to a pair of lobbyists. Depressing because Mr. Obama’s Washington was not supposed to be the lobbyists’ Washington, the place we learned to despise during the last administration.

Thomas Frank

As you may recall, Truman was extremely unpopular when he finally left Washington in 1953, thanks largely to the Korean War. Today, however, he is thought to have been a solidly good president, a ‘Near Great’ even, in the terminology of those surveys of historians they do every now and then.

Thomas Frank

Surrogate motherhood has been the subject of much philosophical and political dispute over the years.

Thomas Frank

Conservatives may believe that impoverished borrowers destroyed Wall Street. But we liberals will not fool ourselves that stupid bankers sank conservatism for good.

Thomas Frank

In the subprime mortgage industry, bankers handed out iffy loans like candy at a parade because such loans meant revenue and, hence, bonuses for executives in the here-and-now.

Thomas Frank

Every city is either vibrant these days or is working on a plan to attain vibrancy soon. The reason is simple: a city isn’t successful – isn’t even a city, really – unless it can lay claim to being ‘vibrant.’

Thomas Frank

In the last James Bond movie, the villain was a culture captain, a tycoon of culture, a Murdoch figure. It’s not as if people don’t know what is going on.

Thomas Frank

In America, we no longer have an institutionalized, organized way of calling business to task – of taking them to account for what they’ve done – and this is especially true in the cultural realm.

Thomas Frank

These days, of course, the focus of talk about popular liberation through products is mostly associated with the Internet. I’ve been collecting computer ads and ads dealing with Internet industries.

Thomas Frank

What becomes fascinating is the way the culture industry doesn’t deny it and doesn’t try to mitigate it, but tries to sell its products as a way of liberating oneself.

Thomas Frank

People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about.

Thomas Frank

American conservatism depends on its continued dominance and even for its very existence on people never making connections about the world, connections that until recent were treated as obvious or self-evident everywhere on the planet.

Thomas Frank

Whereas all liberals are thought to erupt self-righteously whenever they feel like it, conservatives believe that they themselves are never permitted to say what they really think.

Thomas Frank

When you take somebody’s quote out of context, which happens all the time, nobody’s ever going to go and do the research on their own and figure out that you got it wrong.

Thomas Frank

We have become a society that can’t self-correct, that can’t address its obvious problems, that can’t pull out of its nosedive. And so to our list of disasters let us add this fourth entry: we have entered an age of folly that – for all our Facebooking and the twittling tweedle-dee-tweets of the twitterati – we can’t wake up from.

Thomas Frank

Money has transformed every watchdog, every independent authority. Medical doctors are increasingly gulled by the lobbying of pharmaceutical salesmen.

Thomas Frank

During the financial crisis and bailouts of 2008, it probably occurred to very few average people that we were entering a period of hardship for billionaires.

Thomas Frank

The only truly individualistic health-care choice – where you receive care that is unpolluted by anyone else’s funds – is to forgo insurance altogether, paying out-of-pocket for health services as you need them.

Thomas Frank

To be sure, we should all eat right, brush our teeth, and cut down on sweets, but that will hardly help us if we’re born with a condition that requires expensive treatment.

Thomas Frank

Yes, Democrats can prove that America pays more for health care than other countries; yes, they have won the dispute that private health insurance is needlessly expensive. But what they’ve lost is the argument that we are a society.

Thomas Frank

Vibrancy is so universally desirable, so totemic in its powers, that even though we aren’t sure what the word means, we know the quality it designates must be cultivated. The vibrant, we believe, is what makes certain cities flourish.

Thomas Frank

The pursuit of the vibrant seems to be the universal job description of the nation’s city planners nowadays. It is also part of the Obama administration’s economic recovery strategy for the nation.

Thomas Frank

In small towns, bored teenagers turn their eyes longingly to the exciting doings in the big cities, pining for urban amenities like hipster bars and farmers’ markets and indie-rock festivals. Like everyone else, they want the vibrant and they will not be denied.

Thomas Frank

When the entertainers of the Right aren’t declaring their disgust with President Obama for groveling before foreign potentates, they’re pretending to fear him as a left-wing thug, an exemplar of what they call ‘the Chicago way.’

Thomas Frank

Thanks to a deal finalized in 2008, Chicago’s parking meters will be operated for the next 75 years by a group of investors put together by Morgan Stanley, including the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi.

Thomas Frank

As it happens, Chicago is the nation’s leader in municipal privatization efforts. That’s right: The city that conservatives portray as the citadel of the power-grabbing, government-growing left has been selling itself off in pieces for years. It signed a 99-year lease for the Chicago Skyway, a toll road in the city’s South Side, back in 2005.

Thomas Frank

Selling public property is the true Chicago way. Had Mr. Obama not been elected president, the nation’s business journals would be falling over one another to praise his city for its daring, market-friendly innovations.

Thomas Frank

Our current way of regulating the financial system is dysfunctional. Oversight is dispersed among numerous confusing bodies that at times have seemed to be racing each other to the bottom. Setting up One Big Regulator would end that problem.

Thomas Frank

The Obama administration’s plan is to have the Federal Reserve regulate banks that might pose a ‘systemic risk’ if they were to fail.

Thomas Frank

Financial regulation is the next item on the political horizon, and it doesn’t have to be the deathly dull wonk-battle that it sounds like. In fact, if the Democrats do their job, it can just as easily become a platform for addressing the greatest issues of them all.

Thomas Frank

Journalism has a special, hallowed place for stories of its practitioners’ persecution.

Thomas Frank

While Democrats fussed with the details of health care reforms, conservatives spent months telling the nation that the real issue is freedom, that what’s on the line is American liberty itself.

Thomas Frank

Government is, by its very nature, a destroyer of liberties; the Obama administration, specifically, is promising to interfere with the economy and the health care system so profoundly that Washington will soon have us all in chains.

Thomas Frank

There are few things in politics more annoying than the Right’s utter conviction that it owns the patent on the word ‘freedom’ that when its leaders stand up for the rights of banks to be unregulated or capital gains to be untaxed, that it is actually and obviously standing up for human liberty, the noblest cause of them all.

Thomas Frank

What is at stake in the debate over health care is more than the mere crafting of policy. The issue is now the identity of the Democratic Party.

Thomas Frank

Mr. Obama still has time to reverse course. A great deal depends on it. To fail on health care yet again might well be the ‘Waterloo’ Republicans dream of.

Thomas Frank

Joe Klein is the flower of American political journalism, a sharp raconteur who shows traces of the gonzo style that was in vogue when he was honing his craft at Rolling Stone back in the day.

Thomas Frank

This aesthetic quality, then, is what politics is all about. It’s authenticity that separates winners from losers, good politics from bad, and he-man leader-types from consultant-directed puppet-boys.

Thomas Frank

When done right – or wrong, depending on how you look at it – deficits remove liberal options from the table. Suddenly there’s no money for building bridges or inspecting meat. Not surprisingly, running up a deficit is a strategy favored by the wrecking crew for its liberal-killing properties.

Thomas Frank

Maybe that first, gigantic deficit the Reaganites piled up was an accident, just a combination of deluded ‘supply side’ tax cuts and a huge bag of good stuff for the Pentagon. But pretty quickly conservatives discovered that deficits, when done correctly, did something really cool: deficits defunded the Left.

Thomas Frank

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