Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class - And What We Can Do about It
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VINE VOICEon August 28, 2006
Thom Hartmann has hit another grand slam homerun. This book nails the truth about how the right wing-- in both parties-- have been screwing the American people, except for the one hundredth of one percent who earn over $6 million a year.

The book walks through so many of the big lies (taxes, big government, trickle down economics) of the faux conservatives-- which he calls, so appropriately-- "Cons."

As a publisher of a progressive website, I kept reading stretches of chapters and saying to myself-- "Wow, that would make a great article." While the book is a non-fiction book, it started off in the first two pages touching my heart, bringing tears to my eyes. (watching inconvenient truth brought tears too.) It is a very fast, smooth read. You do have to put it down every now and then, to deal with outrage build-up.

As usual with Hartmann's books (amazingly, Amazon lists over 200 results in a search for Thom Hartmann) he offers great solutions as well as unique, insightful perspectives on the problems.

I'm recommending this to my readers (300,000 unique visitors a month) at opednews dot com as the best book they'll see this year.
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on August 23, 2006
I've read a few of Thom's books, and I'm about half way through with his latest one, Screwed. As usual with Thom's books, it's great, well written and researched, and the type of book you can't put down. the only down side is that as far as I know Thom didn't put out a Books on Tape version, which I would prefer as I spend more time driving during the day then I have time to read.

I'm also a big fan of his radio program, for 3 years now, and I've yet to hear Thom say that "a living wage" would be the equivalant to 18 bucks an hour. He has demonstrated that if you stimulate demand you improve the health of the economy, thus why the unemployment rate has dropped every time we've raised the minimum wage, short of those times when we had serious oil shortages, like in the 70's.

Even if we did raise it to 18 bucks an hour, the wage/productivity ratios at your average McDonalds would be still be better than 1:1, meaning McD's would still make a profit. As it is, it's a 1:4 ratio (meaning one week of sales pays for a month of labor), which was the same wage/productivity ratios in domestic industry immediately prior to the Republican Great Depression.

For anyone wanting to read a fine book, and to get familiarized with Thom Hartmann and his ideas, this couldn't be a better place to start....although What Would Jefferson Do? is great too.
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on September 23, 2006
History repeats itself (mainly when you flunk it) and Hartmann is just the historian to explain the current attempt to overthrow our constitution and democracy in terms of our history.

This book is in no more a liberal volume than conservative one. It is a book about the American promise and American dream.

The neocons in charge are not true conservatives and I found this easy to read book points to the reason why.

True conservatives and true liberals want America to work the way it was founded to work and this book reminds us makes America great.

Reading it has made me feel good about America again. We still have a chance to recapture our real values.
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on October 17, 2007
Those who listen to Thom Hartmann should already know that anything he writes is well-researched and founded on the principles that the framers of our constitution held near and dear to their hearts. Thom has never been one to shy away from debate with conservatives, and in SCREWED he makes a point of confronting the most popular arguments in favor of free market economics and corporatocracy, using detailed research to thoroughly debunk claims that our country is headed in the "right path."

Thom Hartmann's point is one that 99 percent of Americans can agree with: people working full-time should be able to live comfortably. This means establishing and protecting the middle-class, an idea that no longer holds true and hasn't since the early days of Reagan. Thom highlights what needs to be done, and what we the people need to do about it. Highly recommended for anyone isn't currently making over $3 million a year.
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on May 22, 2007
I read this book practically in one sitting. It is well-written and easy to read. It's one of the best books I've read on this subject in a long time. I've thought for a very long time now that problems have been gathering for the middle class. This book puts it all together in an eloquent and readable fashion. There are some interesting facts and tidbits that serve as good background information for anyone wanting to discuss these topics, but perhaps the best part of the book is the no-BS approach in confronting certain topics. If you are a true believer in conservative "truths" like trickle-down economics and free market superiority, then you will probably find fault with this book. If, on the other hand, you are genuinely concerned about the plight of the middle class and the future of democracy in this country, then this book will help you solidify your thoughts.
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on November 13, 2006
Congratulations to Thom Hartmann on his new book Screwed; The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class. I saw him on Book TV several days ago and purchased the book. This book connects the dots between political, social and economic events in the United States from 1750 through 2006. Most Americans realize that there are grave injustices in our society and much of those injustices are caused by big government, big corporations, and a small group of high ranking politicians.

The book carefully describes several fundamentals of good government fought for by our early patriots--especially from 1770 to 1800. The new government born in 1775 and 1776 was a government of "We the People of the United States . . . [to] establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty . . ." [The Constitution of the United States of America, from the preamble.]

Without a large, prosperous middle class a democracy will decline and end in tyranny, as it did in the Roman Republic when the Republic became the Roman Empire during the reign of the first Caesar. As he pointed out, the current middle class in the United States: had its roots in the Depression and WWI; was established during 1946 through the 1950s; and started a steady decline around 1981 during the presidency of Ronald Reagan (President, 1981-89.)

The US trade deficit hit a high in 2005 of over $700 billion and will probably be at least $700 billion in 2006. To get a street-level idea of those trade deficits consider the allocation of these amounts to 100 million US citizen workers. Multiply $10 by 100 million and the sum is $1,000M or $1 billion. So, a debt of $1B would be equal to 100 million people owing $10 each. Therefore a debt of $700 billion is equal to $10 x $700 for 100 million people, or $7,000 each! In two years that would be $14,000 per person owed to foreigners.

Reagan and Reaganomics almost tripled the national debt (already high from the Vietnam War and other deficit years) in only 8 years. It is important to debunk, set straight the Reagan Legacy and expose it as an economic failure.

The Privatizing Iraq section on pages 130-35 gives a few reasons why the war in Iraq is almost lost. President Bush gave US tax dollars (through direct taxes and borrowed money) to companies like Bechtel and Halliburton--insuring billions of dollars in profits and denying the Iraqi people control over rebuilding their own country.

You may be surprised to learn that while I like the book and voted against Bush in 2004 and against most Republicans in 2006, I am a Republican, conservative Christian, white, middle-class, small business owner. This election in 2006 showed that some of us "right-wing" conservative Christians have caught on about the true nature of the neo-cons. -- Kenneth S. from Texas
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Since the early 1980s, American politics have been meshed with the interests of large corporations. The result is a new form of "corporatocracy," which Thom Hartmann links to the woes of the middle class. He believes that the political Conservatives who pushed for privatization and special corporate tax breaks intentionally harmed the American middle class, which he calls the bedrock of democracy. While the U.S. government has helped corporations and wealthy citizens, it has increasingly taxed the public and killed social programs that fostered the middle class. Hartmann focuses on the U.S.' future, which, he says, depends on having a healthy middle class. He adds a historical perspective by quoting America's founders, who predicted the dangers of creeping corporatism, economic elitism and an incipient aristocracy. Although he is very assertive in his attacks on Conservatives and corporations, his approach is refreshing. We found this impassioned analysis interesting, but - fair warning - you won't like it much if you're a corporate lobbyist or a Bush supporter.
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on May 6, 2007
First off, shame on those reviewers who haven't read the entire book!
In "Screwed," Thom Hartmann reveals a fuller picture of liberal issues that have conservatives pulling out their own hair trying to understand.
This book is a valuable and relevant read that both sides of the political spectrum would be well served by reading. If you don't dig Hartmann's politics, buy one secondhand or get one from your library, take it at face value there is an agenda here. Hartmann mixes a pinch of brilliance, a scoop of thoughtful revelations tossed heavily with a share of some absurd left-wing craziness. Some points he makes are fairly well cited, some others, not so much.
Hartmann tackles many subjects that embroil partisan politics in name calling and foster general voter malaise.
Much of Hartmann's criticisms blame the Reagan Administration for the current tide of economic chaos. To do so assumes American economic soundness through the Carter Administration, an assumption I challenge more than a handful of people to embrace.
Much of this book is Hartman's call for big government, or at least considerable bureaucracy and government oversight. But he tries to blame the federal government for failures during Hurricane Katrina while dismissing its successes in Florida (hurricanes Charley, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne) as political cronyism between the Bush brothers.
In this instance, he ignores the fact that Florida had a long history of hurricane preparedness, one easily rivaling Louisiana's long history of corrupt and inefficient government. Sorry Thom, you can't have it both ways.
Hartmann seeks to vilify a political system (no less deserving of such a label), by targeting his frustrations consistently with his well established anti-conservative ideology.
He touts Roosevelt's WPA and other works projects, but fails to consider the windfall contracts Roosevelt handed out to Halliburton predecessors like the Morrison-Knudsen Company, W.A. Bechtel, MacDonald & Kahn Ltd., Union Carbide Corporation and enough others to fill the margins of this review.
On healthcare, Hartmann uses Great Britain as a shining example of cradle to grave medical coverage. He fails to grasp that many in Great Britain now seek treatment for common in-patient procedures in nations like India, Thailand or (believe it or not) the U.S. due to gross inefficiency or cold hearted bureaucratic inflexibility in England(See 60 Minutes, CBS, Sept. 4, 2005). Hartmann suggests that health care is a right, I would say that access to healthcare is a right, but not the care itself. I'll also add that a village shaman does not constitute a modern equivalent of "health care."
Hartmann's anti-union, anti-Taft-Hartley litmus test is like saying a person is an atheist because they are pro-choice.
I will agree with Hartmann on many of his thoughts about a living wage, stopping privatization (especially in the military, public utilities and prisons), and increasing tariffs that are punitive to big corporations growing fat off cheap foreign labor.
I commend Hartmann's attempt to reach across the aisle of party lines and his call to become involved in politics. Many of the works Hartmann cites in his arguments are important tools for Americans to begin anew a proper political discourse and deliberation if we are to preserve this experiment in democracy.
REVIEW EVERY BOOK YOU READ, WRITERS AND PUBLISHERS NEED TO KNOW WHAT WE LIKE, PARTICULARLY IF WE WANT MORE GOOD BOOKS!
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VINE VOICEon December 1, 2012
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).
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Edit of 21 July 2009 to add links.

This book is a perfect complement to Lou Dobbs' own book on War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back and is also better in the single specific area where this author chooses to focus: on the middle class. The book by Lou Dobbs is the best book over-all, covering a number of topics related to the health of U.S. society and the economy, while this author focuses exclusively on the middle class.

If I were to recommend one other book, it would be Naomi Klein's No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs which discusses how individual citizens can track the abusive practices and behavior of corporations, and the multitude of individuals can punish them through simple boycotts of their products.

There is no question in my mind but that We the People will take back the power, this book, and Lou Dobbs' book, represent the end of an era of unquestioned repression and abuse of America's middle class and blue-collar labor force, and the beginning of a revolution that the banks and corporations will NOT be able to squelch.

See also:
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography)
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