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The Rich Don't Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph Over Plutocracy That Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970by Sam Pizzigati
Synopses & Reviews
The Occupy Wall Street protests have captured America's political imagination. Polls show that two-thirds of the nation now believe that America's enormous wealth ought to be "distributed more evenly." However, almost as many Americans--well over half--feel the protests will ultimately have "little impact" on inequality in America. What explains this disconnect? Most Americans have resigned themselves to believing that the rich simply always get their way.
Except they don't.
A century ago, the United States hosted a super-rich even more domineering than ours today. Yet fifty years later, that super-rich had almost entirely disappeared. Their majestic mansions and estates had become museums and college campuses, and America had become a vibrant, mass middle class nation, the first and finest the world had ever seen.
Americans today ought to be taking no small inspiration from this stunning change. After all, if our forbears successfully beat back grand fortune, why can't we? But this transformation is inspiring virtually no one. Why? Because the story behind it has remained almost totally unknown, until now.
This lively popular history will speak directly to the political hopelessness so many Americans feel. By tracing how average Americans took down plutocracy over the first half of the 20th Century--and how plutocracy came back-- The Rich Don't Always Win will outfit Occupy Wall Street America with a deeper understanding of what we need to do to get the United States back on track to the American dream.
"Labor journalist Pizzigati (Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives) brings a distinctly progressive sensibility to his examination of the economic history of 20th-century America. Beginning with historian Frederick Lewis Allen's observation that between 1900 and 1950 the super-rich vanished from the United States, Pizzigati traces the economic policies and political decisions that led to this diminishment, and then applies the same methods to the recent return of the 'Big Rich.' 'Our overall economic output has doubled over the last thirty years, yet our middle class families are reeling, and our numbers of desperately poor families are rising to record levels by modern standards.' Pizzigati reviews the introduction and evolution of estate and income taxes, FDR's proposed income cap, the immediate post-WWII 'economic turmoil,' and the Treaty of Detroit that balanced good benefits for auto workers with labor peace for auto makers. All this helped create the 'middle class golden age' of the 1950s and 1960s. Though some readers may disagree with Pizzigati's take on history, his suggestions for ways to increase economic equality‚--îsuch as 'tying our maximum tax rate to the minimum wage so the wealthy have an interest in preventing poverty'‚--îdeserve discussion. "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
A veteran labor journalist, SAM PIZZIGATI has written widely on economic inequality for both popular and scholarly readers. His op-eds and articles on income and wealth have appeared in a host of major American dailies, from the New York Times to the Miami Herald, and a broad variety of magazines and journals. His last book, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives, won a coveted "outstanding title" rating of the year Choice rating from the American Library Association. Pizzigati ran the publishing operations of America's largest union, the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, for twenty years and now serves as an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. His online weekly on excess and inequality, Too Much, goes to a national audience of journalists, researchers, and economic justice activists. Pizzigati has appeared as an expert commentator on inequality on 150+ radio and TV talk and news programs, from Pacifica to Fox Business News.
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