Reporters James Steele and Don Barlett argue that government and business policies have betrayed the 'American Dream.' Through studies and stories, they investigate the systemic erosion of America's middle class in their book "The Betrayal of the American Dream."
From their interview with NPR:
"Everyone loves Apple. Apple makes nothing in this country anymore," Barlett tells NPR's Steve Inskeep as an example. "But then, look over here on the other side and you have Intel, and their plants are massive, and they are good-paying jobs. They continue to invest in this country. And what we need in this country now are more Intels and fewer Apples."
For models of how to boost manufacturing and job growth in the U.S., Barlett and Steele look abroad. "Germany has had a fairly good record in recent years," Steele says. When the global financial meltdown happened, Germany adopted a policy that subsidized companies in order to help them keep employees on the rolls. "It's one of the reasons the German unemployment rate is much lower than in this country," he says.
Barlett and Steele joined The Daily Circuit Oct. 15, 2012 to discuss their book.
LIVE CHAT: How the income gap affects our country
VIDEO: Barlett and Steele on "The Betrayal of the American Dream"
Journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele are on the air with Kerri right now. Their new book is The Betrayal of the American Dream. They argue that the middle class in America is in a crisis.
Do you agree? Where do you see evidence of the middle class thriving or struggling in America?
Cover courtesy of the publisher.
From a 2012 Census report: 20.1% of households make $100,000 or more. 24.9% make $24,999 or less.
The median income stats from that same Census report:
Who among us doesn't know a recently graduated college student who has to live with their parents? Who doesn't know someone whose retirement savings disappeared? Public policies have created this gap.- Barlett and Steele.
Is America a plutonomy? An article from Salon. (As opposed to a plutocracy.)
Your timing for the issue of Inequality is a timely one. The Economist magazine just published an extensive special report on the dangers of inewquality titled "For Richer, For Poorer".
There is no American dream anymore, its one big farce, EU has a higher standard of living than US
Who has the highest standard of living in Europe? According to Eurostat, quoted in The Guardian, it's Luxembourg, then the United Kingdom.
How do we measure income gaps in a country? Here is an explanation (using the UK as an example) of the Lorenz Curve and the Gini Coefficient.
Norway is not in the EU, but I guess they would have topped the list." and they are almost "Communist" per US political standards :
The nature of our economic system (capitalism) is that the 99% create ALL the wealth and the the 1% acquire their one-third to one-half cut of what the 99% have created.
The only way to adjust this distribution is through taxation and minimum-wages laws.
The minimum wages be doubled and taxes should be much higher on higher incomes, stating with elimination of the capital gains exclusion from being considered income.
The stats posted below are interesting, but my guess is that they are not adjusted for inflation - REAL wages have been falling for the past 40 years.
My church is part of the Prophetic Voices campaign. We asked people to stand up if they or a family member: were unemployed, underemployed, underwater on mortgage, adult children living at home, experienced foreclosure, un-payable debt, worried about retirement or children's economic prospects...everyone stood at some point. Then we helped them connect their experiences to the bigger story of what's going on in our economy and democracy. Powerful.
Decades ago, the U.S. led the world in the chances for its citizens to be upwardly mobile - moving from low to middle or middle to high economic levels. Why do you suppose the U.S. has been falling behind in the ability of its citizens to be upwardly mobile and has been passed up by Denmark, Australia, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Italy?
Do you see the impact of this data on our children, and their children and basically everyone who has joined the workforce since 1979?
Do you think it is merely a coincidence that the good fortunes of those earning more than $500,000 per year directly mirrors the chances for low and middle level citizens to improve their situation during that same time period?
Check out these graphs : www.facebook.com
It's amazing how the plutocracy has turned the discussion to blame the middle class and unions (bioth public and private sector) as the villains in this class war, not the greed of the plutocrats as the cause of our current economic woes.
We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis D. Brandeis, 100 years ago, before becoming a Supreme Court justice. Can't imagine a person who said that publicly being confirmed as Justice today
The daughter of a friend of mine a young mom, works for a large multi billion health insurance company that laid off people in her department and now makes people in her department wok mandatory overtime every week and some times weekends. There could be a lot more jobs for people but corporations squeeze every thing they can out of their good people. They don't care that their employees have families or elderly parents or get sick from stress. I feel like we are returning to a Middle Ages serfdom society.
The biggest result of what has happened over the years can best be seen in the lives of our children and there children. Opportunities still exist but the chances for those opportunities has dropped dramatically. Our children and their children will become disenchanted with their opportunities to participate in our U.S. economy.
Looks like we are moving back to the beginning of the 20th century, when workers manufactured the goods they could never afford, and when nobility was able to purchase a silverware worth more than years of workers income.
How did that ended up? Europe in early 1900, sounds familiar.
I'm a musician in the Minnesota Orchestra who has been locked out by management. In our situation, we have two musically un-involved wealthy bankers (Jon Campbell and Richard Davis) essentially holding our cultural institution hostage.
We are highly skilled, unionized workers, accustomed by contract to a good living wage and work conditions.
I believe what is happening to the Minnesota Orchestra, and indeed a huge number of symphony orchestras in our nation no, is a direct result of union-busting attempts of managers and board members who do not have to wrangle with collective bargaining in their own workplaces and wish to see it-- and worker empowerment-- eradicated in our professional artist's industry.
Minnesota deserves to keep its world-class orchestra strong but these bankers would have it turned into the house band for a fancy lobby/rental venue for the wealthy. It is tragic and it is surely a betrayal of my dreams as a professional musician.
I'm just a little guy trying to make a living - is there anything I can do?
@DailyCircuit great show! The health care caller was spot on. The concentration of wealth is turning our society into an aristocracy.
@DailyCircuit Hope this isn't "too little too late." Read The Self-Destruction of the 1 percent in the nytimes yesterday.
From that article mentioned by @bill_pelfrey:
"It is no accident that in America today the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the Gilded Age. Now, as then, the titans are seeking an even greater political voice to match their economic power."
Mike in Roseville wrote in to the show:
"Compare public employee pensions from the 1950s to today's pensions. The 1950s were not a better time for workers."
I am "well off" and worked up from 0. Not possible now.
No stewardship, no sustainability. The infrastructure is crumbling and would be a huge source of jobs-labor and manufacturing. No society has survived this sequestration of wealth-none. The revolution will be violent. It always is when you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Very sad, I fear for my kids' future. You can't take it with you.
great illustration daveawayfromhome.blogspot.com
I have always believed that our tax code reflects many of our moral decisions about what we consider to be important. The fact that the capital gains and investment income rates are so much lower than for ordinary income is a slap in the face of many middle class Americans whose income is primarily through work.
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Table from The Economist.
It's the New Gilded Age. Reminds me of the 2 Robber Barons who, legend has it, loaded a handcar with ill-gotten spoils and scarpered off. escaping police and state prosecution. Good to remember that "Robber" means "thief."
What can we do about this? How do people who are less fortunate have the time, energy or $ to make things better? Protests don't seem to get us anywhere (i.e., the latest wall street protests) and, again, i have to spend my time actually working...
MovetoAmend.org is working to take back our democracy for We the People.
Multi-national corporations and their massive wealth have too much power behind the scenes in our government. Please visit our web site and get involved. We already have 5 chapters in MN.
For a capitalist economy to function properly, the worker classes need to have a large enough share of the economic income pie to be able to afford the products & services the top tier is offering.
If this "demand side" of the economy breaks down from excessive undercutting of workers' wages, wouldn't the results be catastrophic both all involved: rich & poor alike?
This growing demand side deficit was covered up over the '00s by intensified borrowing against peoples' houses.
Debt is no way to finance consumption, as the extremity of this downturn attests.
@wendy I think the breaking point will come and the new American revolution will happen. May be sooner than later
Cheap natural gas prices in America is attracting manufacturing back to America. Too bad Obama is against oil and gas production.
I hate to see misinformation broadcast over your airwaves. One of your guest said that business save on taxes by shipping jobs overseas. Obama said you get a tax deduction.
These are two different things.
Romney was right. There is no tax deduction or credit for shipping jobs overseas. Your guest was VERY misleading but seemed to enjoy taking a shot at Romney.
Shipping jobs overseas can save taxes because foreign countries have lower tax rates. And that is the problem. We need a tax policy that will recognize that American corporations do business all over the world. American income tax, payroll tax, corporate tax, state taxes all contribute to jobs going overseas. Canada is lowering its tax rates to attract businesses. Lets get a leader that knows worldwide business. Your guests do not.
Mom's from Brasil and for 3 decades Brasil had the worst income gap in the world. Heard many stories from fam and friends. Last couple decades, got it together, a lot has changed, and as the gap there continues to shrink, it gets larger and larger here.
My uncle was like "have those people around you not been paying attention? We take one step forward, USA takes 3 steps back." Word titio, couldn't argue with that.
I dont think much will change until politicans stop supporting policies that unfairly tilt toward the wealthy, and start to support policies that help the middle class. Even in Minnesota state politics, I find it startling that many GOP legislative leaders who are not themselves wealthy go against their own interests and continue to support policies that only favor the wealthy - baffling.
I worked at a manufacturing plant in central Minnesota. One quarterly meeting, the owner visited and talked about how she and her husband had just purchased a professional sports team. Considering that our wage raises were not very good that year, it was a slap in the face. I don't think the owner was purposely rubbing our noses in it, I think she was (and probably still is) clueless about the lives of the "little people".
I have a cousin who is very high up in a mid-major bank in another region of the country.
Through TARP and Fed policy his bank has not just been saved but is making money hand over fist, subsequently, his personal income has moved well into the 7 figure range.
I know his good fortune is supported greatly by my tax dollars and erosion of my purchasing power, and I should be irritated; yet, I am not, part of me just wants to figure out how to do the same thing myself.
Perhaps this wish, this prospect that I might pervert the flawed system to my benefit as others have done, is held by others, and is the reason for a lack of broad outrage. Perhaps the apathy toward fixing the system arises from the same bit of human nature that allows people to buy a lottery ticket when they know the average outcome is negative, yet they are enticed by a chance of hitting it big.
I have a idea, send a copy of this book to all the members of congress!