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Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class -- And What We Can Do About It Hardcover – September 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Beginning with the Reagan administration, the U.S. government has steadily instituted policies and legislation that favor corporations over citizens, argues Air America host Hartmann (The Ultimate Sacrifice). Analyzing the rhetoric and policies of the current administration's "compassionate conservatism," Hartmann goes on to detail the ways in which safety nets for working people (from progressive taxation to antitrust legislation to Social Security) have been steadily weakened, and argues that an empowered, educated middle class is crucial to a functioning democracy. Chapters detail the ways in which what gets called "the free market" is not really free (for good reason, he notes), how "We the People create the middle class," how the policies of the Founding Fathers and figures like FDR still have a lot to teach us, and ways for "Leveling the Playing Field." Though far from comprehensive, and despite its sensationalist title, Hartmann's latest is an intelligent critique of the contemporary plight of the middle class.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward.”
—Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While
“Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull’s eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called ‘free market.’ Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now.”
—Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy
“If we are going to live in a Democracy, we need to have a healthy middle class. Thom Hartmann shows us how the ‘cons’ have wronged this country, and tells us what needs to be done to reclaim what it is to be American.”
— Eric Utne, Founder, Utne magazine
“Thom Hartmann’s book explains in simple language and with concrete research the details of the Neo-con’s war against the American middle class. It proves what many have intuited and serves to remind us that without a healthy, employed, and vital middle class, America is no more than the richest Third World country on the planet.”
— Peter Coyote, Actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall
“The powers that be are running roughshod over the powers that OUGHT to be. Hartmann tells us what went wrong — and what you and I can do to help set American right again.”
—Jim Hightower, National Radio Commentator, Writer, Public Speaker, and author of the bestselling Thieves in High Places
“Hartmann speaks with the straight talking clarity and brilliance of a modern day Tom Paine as he exposes the intentional and systematic destruction of America’s middle class by an alliance of political con artists and outlines a program to restore it. This is Hartmann at his best. Essential reading for those interested in restoring the institution that made America the envy of the world.”
— David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning and When Corporations Rule the World
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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).
"Screwed..." is a fantastic book about how the corporate right has threatened democracy by systematically squeezing the middle class. This 249-page book is composed of fifteen chapters that are broken out by the following three parts: Part I: A Middle Class Requires Democracy, Part II. Democracy Requires a Middle Class and Part III. Governing for We the People.
1. Thom Hartman has a way with words. His elegant prose is matched by cogent thoughts.
2. It's a pleasure to read a book from a knowledgeable author who knows how to engage the reader.
3. What a wonderful way to learn history. Interesting and accessible.
4. An inspiring book with substance. There is conviction and passion behind his words.
5. Knowledge is a powerful tool. This book is empowering.
6. Our beliefs should be as strong as the evidence for them. Mr. Hartmann provides well-referenced compelling arguments.
7. The middle class defined and a wonderful historical account on the vision of our founding fathers.
8. The close relationship between the middle class and democracy.
9. Democrats versus the Cons, and why the shoe fits.
10. The realization backed by a long list of examples that business will not always do what's best for society.
11. The legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.
12. Fascinating look at the failed political philosophy of Ronal Reagan.
13. One of the great strengths of this book is that not only does it point out the negative factors that have threatened our democracy but how to reclaim it. Excellent!
14. Great thought-provoking quotes throughout.
15. Despite a clear progressive agenda, one that for the record I ascribe to, the author's criticism is even-handed. Mr. Hartmann is very critical of NAFTA and GATT which were signed by Bill Clinton.
16. The myth that a smaller government means fewer taxes for you and me. A "reverse Robin Hood".
17. The real roles of a democratic government.
18. Thomas Jefferson and the concept of "free" market in perspective.
19. Why the middle class is shrinking...so many great arguments.
20. The rise of the "corporateocracy" at the expense of us all.
21. Bad big pharma!
22. A fascinating look at the founders' vision. The great Thomas Paine.
23. The true historical significance of the Boston Tea Party. I'll drink to that!
24. Where the concept of corporations as persons came from and the implications. That tidbit alone is worth the price of the book.
25. What causes the loss of democracy? Find out.
26. American fascism illustrated.
27. How the Iraqi war screwed American taxpayers...upsetting to say the least.
28. The eye-opening account of prisons for profits and the implications.
29. Health care as it should be.
30. The evolution of heath care in America.
31. What is threatening Medicare? Find out.
32. Social-Security as an anti-poverty insurance program, not an investment program.
33. What the government needs to do help increase the middle class.
34. The illegal employer problem.
35. The living wage as a step toward the middle class.
36. The need for progressive taxes and how it works.
37. Links worked great on the Kindle, thank you.
38. A treat to read from cover to cover and a future reference book.
1. Clearly Thom Hartmann has a progressive agenda, and at time gives you the illusion that FDR can do no wrong while Reagan was evil.
2. It never hurts to add charts or illustrations to complement the elegant prose.
3. Setting aside more time to read more books from Thom Hartmann.
In summary, A fabulous book that met all my expectations. Educational, fun, inspiring and so well researched it was a treat to read. Mr. Hartmann is one of the reasons I love reading books so much. Highly recommended.
Further suggestions: "Perfectly Legal..." by David Cay Johnston, "American Fascists..." by Chris Hedges, "The Conservative Assault on the Constitution" by Erwin Chemerinsky, and "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine.