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Chait, Jonathan 1972–

Chait, Jonathan 1972–

PERSONAL:

Born 1972. Education: University of Michigan, 1994.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Washington, DC.

CAREER:

American Prospect, Washington, DC, assistant editor, 1994-95; New Republic, Washington, DC, starting as staff writer and working up to senior editor, 1995—; contributor to various periodicals, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Reason; Pod Holding, Boston, MA, principal; previously served as managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and venture advisor to several start-up ventures.

WRITINGS:

The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jonathan Chait serves as senior editor for the Washington, DC-based periodical the New Republic. Educated at the University of Michigan, he got his start working for American Prospect as an assistant editor. He then moved on to the New Republic, where he began as a staff writer in 1995 and worked his way up to senior editor. He also contributes regularly to various periodicals, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Reason. Both politically and economically astute, he is a principal for Pod Holding in Boston and previously served as the managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and as a venture advisor to several start-up ventures. In 2007, he published his first book, The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics.

The Big Con addresses the question of who truly controls the government, and what the overall economic repercussions are for the country as a result of steady shifts toward the right-hand side of the political spectrum. As the government grows more conservative and taxes are cut repeatedly, argues the author, the lobbyists are the ultimate winners, and the nation as a whole is made to serve the needs of the corporate infrastructure over the general populace. Ultimately, the liberals fail to make any marked headway in their attempts to thwart the conservative party line, primarily due to extreme disorganization, while the conservatives continue to stand firmly entrenched and make progress toward their goals in steady increments. According to Chait, all of the forces of the American political and economic system appear to be conspiring in this direction. He accuses the media of falling down on the job and ceasing to function as an independent body that answers to neither side, and he faults the American public for being continually swayed by the more dominant personalities over the individuals exhibiting intelligence and substance. Ezra Klein, in a review for American Prospect Online, remarked that Chait's argument is "a very, very good piece of work, and contains the clearest, most sustained demolition of supply-siderism I've encountered. It's also got a lot of very clear, quick writing on economics in general."

Chait asserts that the current trend of government prevents any real improvements in the economy or in the overall health of the nation, as the goals of the leadership remain selfish and concerned with the desires of the individuals who finance their careers over the constituents whom they are supposed to represent. Economic disparity and the ever-growing gap between haves and have-nots is a major factor in what Chait perceives to be a major shift in the political landscape. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews observed that "this text is, of course, a jeremiad from the left, an act of active, aggressive partisanship. But it is also methodical and fact-based." However, Kevin A. Hassett, writing for the National Review, disagreed with many of Chait's findings, particularly in relation to the characters of many of the individuals he refers to over the course of his book, claiming that Chait is incorrect in his assessments and concluding that "Chait is not the most reliable conduit of information about the individuals in his book." Hassett went on to add: "One suspects that the topic has aroused strong emotions in the author, which have clouded his impartiality." Hassett proposed that the argument is the result of an anticipated major tax hike should the Democrats take power, and the need to justify such a financial burden on the nation. He opined that "the book might have been worth reading if it had contained a more thorough analysis of the economics of the Republican agenda."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Book World, September 16, 2007, Alan Cooperman, review of The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics, p. 2.

Books & Culture, January 1, 2008, Eugene McCarraher, "The Government We Deserve." p. 34.

Commonweal, March 14, 2008, Charles R. Morris, "Measuring Inequality," p. 25.

Internet Bookwatch, December 1, 2007, review of The Big Con.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2007, review of The Big Con.

National Review, October 22, 2007, Kevin A. Hassett, "So Great a Conspiracy?," p. 53.

Private Equity Week, April 11, 2005, "Pod Holding," p. 2.

Publishers Weekly, July 23, 2007, review of The Big Con, p. 60.

Washington Monthly, September 1, 2007, Kevin Drum, "Who's the Boss? Forget Neocons and Theocons. It's the Money-cons Who Really Run Bush's Republican Party," p. 58.

ONLINE

American Prospect,http://www.prospect.org/ (August 27, 2007), Ezra Klein, review of The Big Con.

New Republic,http://www.tnr.com/ (June 18, 2008), author profile.

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