Journalist-author enthralls audience

David Cay Johnston, former staff writer for the L.A. Times and author of "Perfectly Legal," visited Geneseo on Wednesday to address politics and economics.

His lecture, held in Newton 204 at 1:30 p.m., sought to expose under-reported corruption in the U.S. tax system, especially the exploitation of Reaganomics by the upper-echelons of fiscal society. Johnston specifically highlighted the duping of society by our education system and cultural norms.

"The government does awful things," said Johnston, who has grounded his career of reporting on the duplicity of government entities through strict research and a healthy dose of skepticism.

"You've got to dot all the 'i's and cross all the 't's [in journalism]," he said at a luncheon with students and faculty of the political science department.

Johnston's gregarious and jesting manner endeared him to the large audience in Newton, who listened closely as he made complicated financial concepts and figures accessible and tackled the causes and effects of income inequality.

The basis of the lecture and the luncheon conversation centered on a criticism of the policies that originated with Ronald Reagan's administration that have served to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

"Reaganism is a scheme to redistribute from the poor the middle class and the moderately wealthy to the politically connected and super-rich" said Johnston. He went on to criticize detractors of conservative socialist policies, citing the successful socialist institutions of infrastructure, law enforcement and firefighting, to name a few.

Johnston's experience is long and varied, beginning in earnest with his assignment to the Los Angeles Police Department beat by the L.A. Times. "I started taking the LAPD apart," he said.

Johnston's early success as an investigative journalist did not come without obstacles. He has been tailed, burglarized and spied upon by members of law enforcement and an LAPD police chief once gave him a detailed description of a date Johnston had been on several nights before, including a critique of the champagne he had selected.

From the L.A. Times, Johnston has moved on to write for The New York Times, teach at Syracuse University's law school and author two books. In 2001 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting. He is currently working on a third book, "The Fine Print." Johnston currently lives in Brighton, N.Y.