5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Solid Analysis Written as an Introduction to a Complex Subject and Call for Action,
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This review is from: Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class - And What We Can Do about It (Paperback)
I have been a fan of Thom Hartman's radio program for years; I like his more sophisticated and sometimes even scholarly analysis of current issues. That's what I expected here as well. While I was impressed with the broadness of his discussion, his invoking of a close reading of Adam Smith, and the marshaling of historical evidence and themes, in the end I felt like this was a little too "once-over-lightly" for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I agree with his characterization of the issues playing havoc with America's middle class and with his assessment of the politics of the current situation. I had hoped for a bit more depth, however, and perhaps some scholarly discussion. Perhaps I should not have desired that in the first place--and I will find it someplace I'm sure--but as it is I suggest that this is a very fine, breezy discussion that is accessible to all but is also less deep than I would have hoped.
Despite my wish for something more than what was offered, this is a very good introduction to a complex subject. It is ideal for someone just beginning the process of exploring these issues in modern America. Hartman gives voice to the strong discontent with the structure of American economics at present and offers compelling, evocative reasons for this current state and what we might do to overcome it. In essence, Hartman chronicles the political right's unrelenting efforts to destroy the New Deal and Great Society programs so critical to American wellbeing in the era since Reagan and with it the economic bulwarks on which has rested the greatest, most equitable social structure ever established. He characterizes this as something akin to a conspiracy, and while I usually discount such broad interpretations there can be no doubt but that the coordinated efforts to roll back the New Deal/Great Society society--and its characteristic commitment to social equanimity--is indeed a strategic effort involving large-scale planning and execution on a broad front.
Thom Hartman's core point is that for democracy to work there cannot be an oligarchy of a small number of superrich and a mass of peons; it requires relative equal opportunity and less disparity of income. We must oppose every effort to create such a society in favor of greater equality of opportunity. The political right denies this is the case, and creates a mythical past in which freedom and liberty reign and all may achieve their dreams, but this also strips from that mythical past the social responsibility of all for the commons of American life. He ranges broadly through American history to make his points, showing how Robber Barons plundered the nation in the latter nineteenth century, corporate greed created the Great Depression, and the modern corporatocracy is pressing for the dissolution of the social safety net in the pursuit of greed as a positive good. His closing lines are a call to arms to fight this corporatocracy at every turn: "We are fighting a war in America for the very heart and soul of our country. But it's a war we can do something about. Don't let yourself be screwed, speak up, fight back, and never, never yield" (p. 215).