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Keeping Up with the Dow Joneses: Debt, Prison, Workforceby Alfredo Molano
Synopses & Reviews
In this short but powerful book of interlinked essays, noted cultural critic Vijay Prashad examines the contradictions of the American economy.
Prashad assesses a range of related issues: the oft-vaunted US economy, propped up by the rising debt of poor and middle-class workers; welfare policies that punish those attempting to escape the grip of debt and poverty; and a prison industry that regulates and houses the unemployed, as well as a reserve army of laborers.
In Keeping Up with the Dow Joneses, Prashad argues that the advent of mass production and advertising has converted citizens into consumers whose desires are captured by the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses."
Yet, as Prashad so persuasively demonstrates, keeping up with the Joneses is a trap: Americans have gone into massive consumer debt, with the poorest forty percent of the public borrowing money to compensate for stagnant incomes, not to spend on luxuries. Only the richest twenty percent borrow money to invest in stocks. Not surprisingly, in the last few years, income and wealth differentials have risen to record highs. By making crystal-clear connections between the economy, welfare reform and the profit-driven prison industrial complex, Prashad offers a vision for a sustainable and vital anti-imperialist movement.
is Associate Professor and Director of International Studies, Trinity College. He is the author of several books including Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity, Fat Cats and Running Dogs and The Karma of Brown Folk. Each was included in the Village Voice's "25 Best Books of the Year" list.
An analysis of three major economic institutions and how they discipline surplus labor of America's poor.
The most important political development in the past decade in the US has been the growth of the anti-globalization movement, or, perhaps more accurately, the anti-corporate movement. Using three major US economic developments-welfare reform and the growth of debt culture and the prison system-Vijay Prashad pushes the limited anti-corporate mobilizations toward sustainable anti-globalization movements with a sophisticated anti-capitalism agenda.
About the Author
Alfredo Molano is a book author, journalist and a weekly columnist for the newspaper El Espectador. His writing on behalf of human rights, peasants and marginalized Colombian communities earned him death threats from the paramilitary United Self-Defense Units of Colombia (AUC). He is currently in exile in Spain but continues to write his column.
Table of Contents
Respect — America — Debt — Prison — Workfare — Movement.
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