Let’s suppose, for a moment, there was a country where the people in charge charted a course that eliminated millions of good-paying jobs. Suppose they gave away several million more jobs to other nations. Finally, imagine that the people running this country implemented economic policies that enabled those at the very top to grow ever richer while most others grew poorer. You wouldn’t want to live in such a place, would you? Too bad. You already do.
Those are the words of this week’s guests, DON BARLETT and JIM STEELE.
These are some of the consequences of failed U.S. government policies that have been building over the last three decades – the same policies that people in Washington today are intent on keeping or expanding…Most significant of all, the American dream of the last half-century has been revoked for millions of people – a dream rooted in a secure job, a home in the suburbs, the option for families to live on one income rather than two, a better life than your parents had and a still better life for your children.
Barlett and Steele wrote these words in 1992. They are the first words of their Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which led to the #1 best-selling book, America: What Went Wrong. They put their finger on things and connected dots that really established a lens through which to view the next 20 years. The point of view of the 99% movement is basically the one Barlett and Steele described and predicted at the birth of the Clinton era.
Free Forum Q&A- Philip Caputo, Author of The Longest Road: Overland from Key West to the Arctic Ocean in Search of What Holds America TogetherWritten on September 24th, 2013
Standing on an island off the Alaskan coast, PHILIP CAPUTO marveled that Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united?
CAPUTO resolved to drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives.
Fourteen years later, nearing 70, CAPUTO, his wife, and their two dogs drove a truck and an Airstream trailer from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. They avoided interstates, and invited conversations with Americans you meet when you avoid interstates. Somewhere in many of those conversations, Caputo would ask two questions: What holds a country as vast and diverse as the United States together? Was it holding together as well as it once did?
Last week I interviewed longtime reporters Don Barlett and James Steele regarding their new book, THE BETRAYAL OF THE AMERICAN DREAM, looking at the relentless economic, financial, and governmental process over the last 40 years to enrich the largest corporations and richest individuals at the expense of the middle class. This week I’ll talk with another wise and experienced Pulitzer prize winner with a long term perspective, HEDRICK SMITH, about his newest book, WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence nor do I think it’s redundant to turn so soon to the same questions being pursued by another savvy journalist. HEDRICK SMITH had already won a Pulitzer by 1973, the year that the post-WWII boom for the middle class began to wane. Real wages for all Americans had risen pretty consistently from the war years, and have done so almost not at all ever since. I point this out to highlight the fact that Smith has witnessed first-hand the rise and long fall of the middle class and brings that experience to this book and this conversation.
TINA ROSENBERG, the winner of a MacArthur grant, is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, a former member of the Times editorial board, and writes the online column Fixes for nytimes.com. Her book The Haunted Land on how Eastern Europe faced the crimes of Communism, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Her latest book is JOIN THE CLUB: How Peer Pressure Can Transform The World
GRETCHEN MORGENSON was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her "trenchant and incisive" coverage of Wall Street. She has been on that beat ever since and now has a book on the recent meltdown. Though we've had in depth conversations with Michael Lewis, Joseph Stiglitz, Simon Johnson, William Greider and others about the crisis, it's been a while since we covered it, and so this week we will have a chance to get an update on where things stand and look at some of the implications.
RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT lays out how the financial meltdown resulted from the toxic interplay of Washington, Wall Street, and corrupt mortgage lenders. It reveals how the watchdogs who were supposed to protect us from financial harm were actually complicit in creating the financial crisis, and focuses on the abuse of Fannie May and Freddie Mac.