Synopses & Reviews
America's leaders say the economy is strong and getting stronger. But ordinary Americans aren't buying it. They see what the rosy statistics hide: We are all struggling under the weight of terrifying economic instability. No matter how well educated and hard working we are, we know that the bottom can fall out at any moment. Meanwhile, the safety net that once protected us is fast unraveling. With retirement plans in growing jeopardy while health coverage erodes, more and more economic risk is shifting from government and business onto the fragile shoulders of the American family.
In The Great Risk Shift, Jacob S. Hacker lays bare this unsettling new economic climate, showing how it has come about, what it is doing to our families, and how we can fight back. Behind this shift, he contends, is the Personal Responsibility Crusade, eagerly embraced by corporate leaders and Republican politicians who speak of a nirvana of economic empowerment, an ownership society in which Americans are free to choose. But as Hacker reveals, the result has been quite different: a harsh new world of economic insecurity, in which far too many Americans are free to lose.
The book documents how two great pillars of economic security the family and the workplace guarantee far less financial stability than they once did. The final leg of economic support the public and private benefits that workers and families get when economic disaster strikes has dangerously eroded as political leaders and corporations increasingly cut back protections of our health care, our income security, and our retirement pensions. Hacker concludes by advocating an insurance and opportunity society that wouldsafeguard economic security and expand economic opportunity, ensuring that all Americans have the basic financial security they need to reach for and achieve the American Dream.
Jacob Hacker brings into focus as never before the pressures that the Great Risk Shift exerts on our pocketbooks and on our lives. Blending powerful human stories, big-picture analysis, and compelling ideas for reform, this remarkable volume will hit a nerve, serving as a rallying point in the vital struggle for economic security in an increasingly uncertain world.
"America's largest social class isn't upper-income, middle, or poor. It's our sprawling anxious class. As Jacob Hacker shows in this lucid and riveting account, American families are experiencing more and more uncertainty about their future, and the reigning conservative orthodoxy is exposing them to ever greater risk. Hacker lifts up the floor boards of conservative's much touted 'opportunity society' and reveals the extended rot. But he also offers up a new foundation for economic security. This is an important book." Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor
"Jacob Hacker's research on the uneven state of the American safety net has made the young Yale University political scientist a top idea merchant to Democratic think tanks." Business Week
About the Author
Jacob S. Hacker is Peter Strauss Family Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University and Fellow at the New America Foundation. He is author of The Divided Welfare State and The Road to Nowhere, and most recently, co-author of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. A frequent commentator on NPR, PBS, and CNN, Hacker has written for The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and other publications.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Revised and Expanded Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Introduction: On the Edge
1. The New Economic Insecurity
2. Risking it All
3. Risky Jobs
4. Risky Families
5. Risky Retirement
6. Risky Health Care
Conclusion: Securing the Future