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Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class and What We Can Do about Itby Thom Hartmann
Synopses & Reviews
The American middle class is on its deathbed. Ordinary folks who put in a solid day's work can no longer afford to buy a house, send their kids to college, or even get sick. If you're not a CEO, you're probably screwed.
America wasn't meant to be like this. Air America Radio host Thom Hartmann shows that our Founding Fathers worked hard to ensure that a small group of wealthy people would never dominate this country — they'd had enough of aristocracy. They put policies in place to ensure a thriving middle class. When the middle class took a hit, beginning in the post-Civil War Gilded Age and culminating in the Great Depression, democracy-loving leaders like Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower revitalized it through initiatives like antitrust regulations, fair labor laws, the minimum wage, Social Security, and Medicare.
So what happened? In the last twenty-five years, we've witnessed an undeclared war against the middle class. The so-called conservatives waging this war are only interested in conserving — and steadily increasing — their own wealth and power. Hartmann shows how, under the guise of "freeing" the market, they've systematically dismantled the programs set up by Republicans and Democrats to protect the middle class and have installed policies that favor the superrich and corporations.
But it's not too late to return to the America our Founders envisioned. Hartmann outlines a series of commonsense proposals that will ensure that our public institutions are not turned into private fiefdoms and that people's basic needs — education, health care, a living wage — are met in a way that allows the middle class to expand, not shrink.
America will be stronger with a growing, prospering middle class — rule by the rich will only make it weaker. Democracy requires a fair playing field, and it will survive only if We the People stand up, speak out, and reclaim our democratic birthright.
"Beginning with the Reagan administration, the U.S. government has steadily instituted policies and legislation that favor corporations over citizens, argues Air America host Hartmann (The Ultimate Sacrifice). Analyzing the rhetoric and policies of the current administration's 'compassionate conservatism,' Hartmann goes on to detail the ways in which safety nets for working people (from progressive taxation to antitrust legislation to Social Security) have been steadily weakened, and argues that an empowered, educated middle class is crucial to a functioning democracy. Chapters detail the ways in which what gets called 'the free market' is not really free (for good reason, he notes), how 'We the People create the middle class,' how the policies of the Founding Fathers and figures like FDR still have a lot to teach us, and ways for 'Leveling the Playing Field.' Though far from comprehensive, and despite its sensationalist title, Hartmann's latest is an intelligent critique of the contemporary plight of the middle class." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"If we are going to live in a Democracy, we need to have a healthy middle class. Thom Hartmann shows us how the 'cons' have wronged this country, and tells us what needs to be done to reclaim what it is to be American." Eric Utne, Founder, Utne magazine
"Thom Hartmann's book explains in simple language and with concrete research the details of the Neo-con's war against the American middle class. It proves what many have intuited and serves to remind us that without a healthy, employed, and vital middle class, America is no more than the richest Third World country on the planet." Peter Coyote, Actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall
"The powers that be are running roughshod over the powers that OUGHT to be. Hartmann tells us what went wrong — and what you and I can do to help set American right again." Jim Hightower, National Radio Commentator, Writer, Public Speaker, and author of the bestselling Thieves in High Places
"Hartmann speaks with the straight talking clarity and brilliance of a modern day Tom Paine as he exposes the intentional and systematic destruction of America's middle class by an alliance of political con artists and outlines a program to restore it. This is Hartmann at his best. Essential reading for those interested in restoring the institution that made America the envy of the world." David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning and When Corporations Rule the World
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom's great work, it helps show us the way forward." Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While
"Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull's eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called 'free market.' Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now." Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy
Book News Annotation:
Welcome to the middle class. In four years you have lost over $1600 in buying power a year, about one million private sector jobs and, chances are good, your health insurance. Talk show host Hartmann describes how the middle class is an anomaly in a free market economy, buttressed by entitlements, including minimum wage and fair labor laws, but how it is most certainly not an anomaly in a democracy. He argues the middle class has been the victim of systematic dismantling of the entitlements set in place in the Franklin Roosevelt years and shortly thereafter, and how the practice of medicine could be for health, the rules of pay could be fair, and the playing field of entitlement could be level. Mainly he urges the middle class to avoid getting crewed by getting involved. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The American middle class is on its deathbed. People who put in a solid day's work can no longer afford to buy a house, send their kids to college, or even get sick. If you’re not a CEO, you’re probably screwed.
As Air America Radio Host Thom Hartmann shows, this death is no accident. Like the Founding Fathers, patriots such as Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower knew that economic opportunity and democracy go hand-in-hand. They believed in maximizing the public good and they worked tirelessly to build the strongest middle class the world has ever seen. But now, under the guise of “freeing the market,” conservative and corporate forces are waging a covert war against the middle class, dismantling policies like Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, and fair labor laws — the very safeguards that foster economic opportunity and citizen engagement. The result is an economic system designed to line the pockets of the super-rich, the impending extinction of the middle class, and a very real, very dangerous threat to democracy itself.
By exposing the systematic efforts to destroy the middle class, Screwed empowers readers to stand up, speak out, and reclaim their democratic birthrights.
About the Author
Thom Hartmann is an American broadcaster, author, and psychotherapist. He hosts a 3-hour daily radio show broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio, 29 terrestrial radio stations, podcast via mp3 archives at both The White Rose Society and Air America Radio Premium, and streamed for free on RadioPower.org, Air America's website, and The White Rose Society. His national program, which airs weekdays from noon until 3 p.m. ET, is now syndicated by Air America Radio.
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