Customer Reviews


26 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still highly relevant
This is a book that really helps ordinary Americans understand what is happening to the economy. Though somewhat dated by being written before our so-called period of prosperity, the trends emphasized in the book not only continue, but in some instances have accelerated. In that important sense, B's & S's work remains as topical today as it was yesterday. It's...
Published on September 8, 2000 by Douglas Doepke

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books ever written on the economy
Coming on the heels of the longest peace-time expansion in U.S. history and concurrent with one of the mildest recessions in recent times, Bartlett and Steele cobbled together a bunch of out-of-context statistics and anecdotes to paint a left-wing critique of the country that turned out to be completely wrong (but aren't most left-wing critiques of the country?).
Published 1 month ago by Chris Huston


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still highly relevant, September 8, 2000
By 
Douglas Doepke (Claremont, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
This is a book that really helps ordinary Americans understand what is happening to the economy. Though somewhat dated by being written before our so-called period of prosperity, the trends emphasized in the book not only continue, but in some instances have accelerated. In that important sense, B's & S's work remains as topical today as it was yesterday. It's also an excellent companion to Kevin Phillip's more recent *Politics of the Rich and Poor*, though the former aims at a more popular audience. Many of the statistical comparisons of Phillip's book were originated here: the junk bond plunder of healthy companies, the massive export of high-wage jobs, the decline of pension funds and health care, et.al. And a sorry, sorry tale it is.
Several pressing topics not included in Phillip's book are discussed here. "Net operating loss" is perhaps the most egregious method of transferring wealth upward. This highly biased tax allowance allows struggling companies to write off last year's net operating loss on this year's tax bill, forcing taxpayers to pay for operating losses incurred by private sector firms. Similarly, Chapter 11 bankruptcies allow indigent firms to continue operating with present management but immune from creditors. The net effect of both measures is to lessen risk and encourage reckless speculation, thereby undermining long-term market health. Included in the book are other degenerate measures deriving largely from the 1980's: Deduction of interest from corporate borrowing, Tax-free government bonds (deriving from early 1900's), Untaxed stock transactions, et.al. The overall result is to transfer the tax burden from wealthy categories to middle-cass brackets. For more far-sighted conservatives, this amounts to an alarming social and political development.
Though much the same ground has now been trod in other books, the story can stand multiple retellings, since middle-class decline is perhaps the most important domestic trend of our time. What distinguishes this book's original telling are the vivid personal profiles amidst the welter of relevant statistics. These cameos have the crucial effect of reminding the reader that behind the abstractions are real people whose lives are shaped by tax legislation, wealth transfers, and job export. The result is a little like Studs Turkel meets the tax collector.
Recommended for those interested in the social contours of the future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EYE OPENER, January 22, 2004
By 
Larry Lively (Houston, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
This book was bought as one of the text books I needed for my college civics class. Of all the text books I have bought, this is the only one that I read from cover to cover. This book will make you angry with what is allowed to happen to the average American. Most of the incidents that are talked about are not general public knowledge. I don't feel that it is a fatalistic book as other reviewers have indicated. It does bring out some disturbing issues that should not have happened or allowed to happen.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh One Star Reviewers, Where Are You Now...?, January 18, 2011
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
Interesting that there are no one star reviews after the economic downturn of 2008--present day. We see only what we want to see, t'would seem. Thus, when Bartlett and Steele's "doomsday" arguments bore fruit in 2008, we ought to note that they were on to something. I read this book when it was first published as a serial piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and then later in the book form. I've been citing their work for just as long.

Can't wait to see Bartlett and Steele's latest work: What Went Wrong: The Betrayal of the American Dream. They're working with the Investigative Reporting Workshop of the American University School of Communications. Bartlett and Steele are true examples of what used to sell papers--smart, in-depth reporting that never flinched.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What really went wrong?, January 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
This book is really an eye opener. It cuts through all the bull that we normally get in the press or from politicians. It suddenly puts everything in focus and you realize why things are the way they are now, especially if you were around in the 50's as a pre-baby boomer or a baby-boomer. I think it's even more important that people born in the 70's read it so they can get a grasp on where this country is headed. Intelligent, clear, well documented writing, it should be included in every school curriculum as required reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Financial Attack on Americans, October 16, 2013
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
America: What Went Wrong? Bartlett & Steele

David L. Bartlett and James B. Steele are Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporters for the `Philadelphia Inquirer' who documented this war on America's middle class [those who are salaried and work year round]. This book is the expanded version of articles printed in October 1991 (`Acknowledgments'). This 227 page paperback has ten chapters, an `Epilogue', `Notes on Sources', a list of House and Senate members, and an `Index'. The wage and salary structure of business and Federal tax policies are leading to a two-class society (`Prologue'). The top 4% earn as much as the bottom half of US workers in 1989. [Is it any better today?] This was due to the tax policies of the 1980s (p.xii). The authors use income to define the "middle class" (p.xiiii). Their standard of living is falling due to "structural problems". Interest payments on the national debt transfers parts of your paycheck to the wealthy (p.xvi).

Chapter 1 tells how the earnings of the rich greatly increased during the 1980s while the wages of the middle class barely kept up with inflation. Corporations are closing plants and discharging workers in the USA sending jobs out of the county (Chapter 2). Laws allow US corporations to deduct interest payments on borrowed money so they pay less in taxes. Ordinary people have to pay more (Chapter 3). The changed bankruptcy law in 1978 allowed corporate borrowing and leveraged buyouts (Chapter 4). Mismanagement lead to bankruptcy and a loss of jobs and pensions for their workers. Chapter 5 tells how outsourcing a business leads to lower taxes, a benefit for corporate owners. Deregulation was followed by failures of over-extended businesses, such as trucking, airlines, and savings and loans banks (Chapter 6). [Is this designed to eliminate small local banks? Note how your small local banks are being taken over since the 1980s.]

Chapter 7 tells how the number of companies providing paid medical insurance dropped during the 1980s. They are the casualties of corporate finance and government rules that ignore ordinary citizens. Chapter 8 tells how corporate raiders can loot a corporation of its holdings and its pension fund. [This is the most educational chapter for those who suffered from these swindles.] Federal law allows a corporation to remove money from its pension fund if it certifies there is enough left to cover its pension obligations (Chapter 9). This money goes into the pockets of the new owners. [Is there a conflict of interest here?] Government pension funds back the raiders. Most of the largest pension funds are of public employees. [Until Wall Street figures out a way to loot them, like the recent Detroit bankruptcy.] Private pension plans are deteriorating, so too Social Security. While a corporation can purchase an annuity to replace a defined-benefit plan, annuities are NOT guaranteed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, or any other government agency.

Capitol Hill lobbyists act for the very rich against the rest of the American people (Chapter 10). One example is the tax exemption for interest on state and local government bonds. [But isn't this in the Federal Constitution? This could explain the bonding and spending by state and local governments.] Tax deductions for the wealthy mean higher taxes for the rest of us. Why isn't there an excise tax on selling or buying securities? Should owners of investment properties get a tax break denied to ordinary homeowners? Takeovers create debt that results in lower pay and benefits for their employees. Often it leads to the bankruptcy of the business and selling off properties. "Junk bonds" were toxic (p.211)! The `Epilogue' says the Pure Food and Drugs la established that the public welfare outweighs private gain (p.214). The 1938 Securities Act corrected private exploitation of the public. The authors recommend new legislature that would benefit most American employees rather than the top 7% (pp.217-219).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Made sense of the confusing business of "Reganomics", December 7, 1998
By 
Craig Duncan (Silver Spring, MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
I recall, when Regan's "simplified" 3-tier federal income tax code took effect, conducting a simple experiment: I calculated the tax on several incomes, from poverty level to over $200000, both before and after the change. Although the gross tax dropped, the percentage paid by the lower incomes increased, while the upper decreased. This, I remember thinking, does not look good.
Barlet and Steele's book gave substance to my suspicion, and helped to form my current understanding of US government, which is, I believe, increasingly under the sway of a wealthy elite.
Particularly interesting were the parallel the book drew between the early '1920s and the '80s.
While the book does well in illuminating the problems faced by our republic, it does less well in suggesting a cure, though, in its defense, this is a less easy task.
I recommend this book to every serious, thinking person I meet.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this., February 28, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
Great book filled with information everyone should be aware of to be informed of the workings of the government behind the scenes
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, Needs Updating, but worthy of one's time!, February 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
Prescient in many, many ways. Reading this book, published in 1992 reads like it is a 2013 NYTimes best seller. The truth is crispy clear and nothing has change with the possible exception that things are only getting worse. For a student of the many recent calamities of political history, this is nearly a "must read". The fact that the author could see the simple facts as though they were clear to everyone, is not unusual. What is unusual is the delivery of these simple facts, overlooked by most people. With the ridiculous amount of time politicians give themselves away from their Washington D.C. office, I wish they would grab this book and READ it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to read this if you care about America remaining strong with a strong middle class., December 29, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
Excellent research goes into this book explaining the decline of the middle class in America. Please read and vote for your representatives who understand the importance of a strong middle class.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading, October 7, 2006
By 
R. D. Hoag (Carmel by the Sea, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: America: What Went Wrong? (Paperback)
Any one really reading this book can't help but be angry at the way a small segment of the ultra wealthy control our government and our tax situation for their benefit. Thais has nothing to do with socialism, Marxism, or anything else. The progressive income tax system brought us out of the terrible conditions of the 1930's Carnegie and Mellon era of extreme wealth surrounded by masses of poor Americans. We are now returning to those conditions, the middle class prosperity of the 50's, when most families could buy a house, send their kids to college and take vacations is now replaced with two wage earners in the family, who can just make ends meet while the ultra wealthy have more money then they know what to do with. If you believe in conditions that the feudal kings lived in, this is not the book for you. If you care about others and want to know why things are so messed up in this country, this book will explain it in simple, straight forward, factual manner and you will want to do something about it before the next generation can do nothing.

This should be required reading in every high school and college.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

America: What Went Wrong?
America: What Went Wrong? by Donald L. Barlett (Paperback - January 1, 1992)
$14.95 $11.24
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.