The People vs. GreedThe People vs. Greed by Joseph W. Cotchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The People vs. Greed is a difficult read, both in the sense that it will turn your stomach, and in the sense that it is a well-researched, “lawyerly” tome that is laden with facts and hard evidence. Like a crime scene photo in a criminal trial, it is ugly to look at but impossible (and immoral) to turn away from. This book contains few, if any, “fluffy” vignettes that so typify today’s nonfiction. Rather than being “dumbed-down” to maximize sales to undereducated/oversaturated readers, Mr. Cotchett lays out all the cold, hard facts in an intelligent and unapologetic manner.

Joseph W. Cotchett, a California “Super Lawyer” (see, pulls no punches exposing the systemic greed, corruption and theft that affect our daily lives, from our “bought” electorate to our tainted food supply. Other chapters cover health care fraud, Wall Street thuggery, the theft and misappropriation of our tax dollars, climate change/denial, Big Pharma, Big Oil, defense (mis)spending, the erosion of our privacy, and the lawyers who make all of the above possible. It is all rather dispiriting and overwhelming. And yet, if you care at all about the current state—and more importantly the future—of our nation and world, you must read this, cover to cover. Just as attorneys have to suffer through mandatory continuing education each year to keep our law licenses, readers should think of this book as mandatory continuing education for U.S. citizenship and global residency. In fact, The People vs. Greed should be required reading in every high school civics class (if there is such a thing) and citizenship application. It should be mailed to every registered voter in those awful voter information packets and handed out at every City Hall, DMV and other government office throughout the country. According to the author’s acknowledgments, all royalties from The People vs. Greed are donated to various nonprofit groups. So you can and should purchase this book with a noble conscience.

If I could add my own subjective observations/suggestions for improvement for a second edition (and yes, go off on a bit of a tangent), they would be these:

• Include the vaccine debate in the chapter on Big Pharma greed. This merits a book unto itself, but many respectable studies have questioned the efficacy of vaccines and documented the increased potential for serious side effects from our rigorous early-childhood vaccination schedule. The United States has the highest number of mandated vaccines for children under five in the world (36, double the Western world average of 18), the highest autism rate in the world (1 in 150 children, 10 times or more the rate of some other Western countries), but only places 34th in the world for childhood mortality in children under five. (See Big Pharma’s influence on the CDC is now indisputable, as revealed by the documentary Vaxxed. Whether you believe that there is a connection between the childhood MMR vaccine and autism, whether you happily accept the CDC’s “fast tracking” of the Gardasil “vaccine” for Merck’s benefit, the fact remains that vaccinations are huge business and are given quite the “free pass” in this country, unlike in the rest of the developed world (see, e.g., A National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“Vaccine Court”) was set up in 1986 to grant immunity—no pun intended—to vaccine manufacturers in favor of a government reimbursement program for families whose children had serious side effects from vaccines. It has since awarded nearly $2 billion on 2,398 claims. Although this seems like an astounding figure, I am sure it is far less than jury verdicts would have been if class-action litigators like Mr. Cotchett had been allowed to pursue vaccine manufacturers directly on behalf of injured children. The CDC—a supposedly independent watchdog agency—accepts millions of dollars in gifts and funding from the pharmaceutical industry, and the former CDC director (Julie Gerberding) is now the head of Merck’s vaccine unit, among other high-profile, revolving-door conflicts of interest between Big Pharma and the public agencies tasked with regulating them (see

• Address the for-profit prison-industrial complex and the attendant racism that makes America the #1 jailer in the world per capita. According to Wikipedia, in October 2013, “the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners.” ( It is no coincidence that most of our human “prison inventory” consists of black and brown bodies. Read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. This is U.S. greed and racism at its ugliest.

• Now that we have all this awful information, offer suggestions as to what your average citizen can do. Vote? I vote in all major elections and many minor ones; I take the time to read the confounding and often thick voter booklets, Google the major issues, etc. But what good does any of that do if the people we vote for are greedy, dishonest, and in the pockets of our real leaders, corporate America? No wonder so many of us feel powerless and disgruntled. Even those politicians who start out somewhat well-intentioned are quickly spoiled like fruit left to rot in a bowl. Are term limits the answer? Perhaps. More regulation of big business? Perhaps. Frankly, I’d like to see our elected “leaders” doing the jobs we pay them to do and enforcing the laws we already have. Beyond that, we need a major overhaul of our political system to remove money from politics (let’s not hold our collective breath) and implement legal and financial restraints on big business to protect citizens from runaway Capitalism. I, like many of my fellow citizens, am at an utter loss as to what power we individually wield to avert the total and inevitable collapse of our nation—if not our planet—when we are up against these untouchable, unstoppable, and largely invisible forces.

Although by all rational inference we seem doomed as a nation and a species, we are fortunate to have a few renegades like Joseph Cotchett to afford a glimmer of hope. Although Mr. Cotchett paints a bleak picture of the good old U.S. of A., he (and many other trial lawyers, I am sure) have dedicated their lives and careers to righting wrongs and plugging for the underdog. Yes, there is still faint hope that David can ultimately triumph against the Goliath of our American oligarchy. It has happened before and can happen again if “We the People” unite and make our voices heard. Politicians too often rouse our fear and hatred, in order to divide and manipulate us. The People vs. Greed exposes the bigger picture at play—the rampant greed and corruption throughout our government and major industries. We have essentially exonerated our leaders from all accountability, like neglectful parents unleashing their teenagers on their communities with a fat trust fund, unlimited cocaine, a hot rod with a full tank, and no curfew.

There is much in this book we can agree on. Let’s put our collective differences aside, gain control over our electorate, and band together for the greater good of our country. Thank you, Mr. Cotchett, for this informative, important, and timely work.

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