Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hedrick Smith's "Who Stole the American Dream?"

Hedrick Smith is a bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, and Emmy Award–winning producer. His books The Russians and The Power Game were critically acclaimed bestsellers and have been widely used in college courses.

Smith applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Who Stole the American Dream?, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book starts with a quotation from a slick Citigroup investment brochure to high-end investors advising them that the American economy is now so lopsided in favor of the richest 1% that the world has not seen such eye-popping concentration of wealth since 16th Century Spain or 17th Century Holland, and with Advertising Age urging ad agencies and marketing gurus to abandon mass marketing to the middle class, and even to the affluent upper middle class, and to concentrate on the hyper-rich. "The top 1% along control nearly 40% of the wealth," Ad Age advised.

That is just one side of the coin. Who Stole the American Dream? is devoted to explaining, step by step, how we in America have moved from an era of middle class prosperity and power, and effective political bipartisanship in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, to a new era of polarized partisan gridlock, starkly unequal democracy and even more gaping economic inequalities while the middle class has been stuck in a rut. In fact, the census bureau reports that the average male worker's wage per hour was just a bit lower in 2011 than in 1978 - three decades of going nowhere, while the rich became the ultra rich.

Two big reasons - wedge economics and the power shift - both of which began to take shape in the late 1970s. You'll have to look at the book to understand what those things are about. Just be assured that very little of the verbiage being thrown at voters today touches on the real causes of the stagnation of America's middle class. We'll never get to a smart fix unless we understand the causes of our problems. If you want a quick read, take a look at my oped in the New York Times which ran on September 3 and has caused waves of reactions. Headline: "When Capitalism Cared".
Learn more about the book and author at Hedrick Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue