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America: What Went Wrong? Paperback – January 1, 1992
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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.
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.
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David L. Bartlett and James B. Steele are Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporters for the `Philadelphia Inquirer' who...Read more