Most helpful critical review
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1st half incisive / 2nd half mush
on April 10, 2014
Great book to a point:
Copy and send to your friends: Chapter 13, "Housing Heist," Chapter 14, "The Great Wealth Shift," Chapter 15 "Offshoring the Dream," Chapter 16 "Hollowing Out High-End Jobs," Chapter 18, "The Missing Middle."
After that, this book falls apart.
Those chapters are the most concise and incisive, easy-to-digest descriptions of the Wall Street and D.C Beltway collusion, lobbying and revolving door practices that led to the 2008 collapse and Great Recession. It illustrates the hollowing out of the American middle class, with the loss of trillions in real estate equity via the unbridled piracy of Wall Street financiers, complicit credit rating companies, wrong-headed legislation and failed government oversight of exotic real estate equity based ponzi schemes.
This became a double-whammy as multi-national businesses off-shored of 10-million American manufacturing and professional jobs. The result: A shell-shocked and out of work middle-class, a new hyper-rich financial/corporate class and state-dependent social program underclass in the United States.
Following this cogent and concise history in Chapter 18, "The Missing Middle," the author goes off the rails.
He drops in a chapter that seems to blame America's systemic dysfunction and inability to change things on the Tea Party!
He makes no mention whatsoever about the policy role of the new Democratic Left, that would make John Kennedy look like a moderate Republican! John Kennedy, for example, touted balanced budgets, government accountability, capitalist incentives, a strong military (Cuban missle crisis, etc) and big ideas for an exceptional nation (man on the moon)!
There is no discussion in this chapter about the ascendence and rigidity of a new arrogant entrenched Democratic-progresive left as part of the problem vis a vis the Tea party! Here, unfortunately, the author reveals himself as pedantic, inside the Beltway and CNN pundit thinking analyst, with not much to offer, except blame and wishful thinking.
Finally, after the chapter that vilifies the "right," Hedrick Smith writes out 10 idealistic points for progress. Unfortunately, any college political science undergrad could cobble together the same ideas as pie-in-the-sky goals.
Ultimately, one would think that a Pulitzer Prize-winning author would know that the likelihood any of these idealistic goals coming to pass are very far-fetched, given the administrative incompetence and self-serving politics of Washington D.C.
But, I give major credit for the tight writing about the Wall Street melt down and the theft of middle class wealth.
However, after Chapter Chapter 18, this book takes a tone of social science mush.