Arianna Huffington, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, the sixth most popular online news source, details the state of the nation's middle class. His new book is titled "Third World America: How Our Politicians Abandon the Middle Class and Betray the American Dream". Read her point of view and see if you agree.
Third world america presents in five sections, where the first chapter echoes the title of the book. It is full of stories and statistics highlighting the decline of America's middle class. How do you define the “middle class”? It resorts to self-definition says Huffington. "If you think of yourself as a middle class, you are middle class."
The nation's dying industrial base, erosion of the education system, and degradation of infrastructure are contributing to the decline; so is high unemployment, where one in six Americans is either out of work or underemployed. Meet Dean B., who, at 35, was laid off from his IT job in February 2009 and is still unemployed. Kimberly B. sold her wedding ring on Craigslist to pay her family's utility bills.
Huffington explores the plight of the middle class in more detail, citing fear as a predominant emotion. 401 (k) s obliterated, declining pensions, prolific foreclosures and hints of a future Social Security collapse; feed the anxieties. Many now believe that the success of the middle class is the luck of the raffle, much like a prize on a scratch lottery ticket.
America's infrastructure is crumbling, says Huffington, with insufficient state and federal funding. Highways, power grids, waterways, railways and bridges are some of the victims. Some water pipes, originally laid during the Civil War, are working dangerously.
Think back to August 2007, when the Interstate 35W steel truss bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis collapsed; killing 13 people and injuring 145. Previous patchwork repairs were insufficient.
The nation's school system is anemic, with the United States ranking twenty-fifth in mathematics and twenty-first in science among thirty developed countries; according to the classification of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In 2009, the American broadband connection ranked fifteenth among industrialized countries.
The decline of America's middle class has lasted for decades. In the late 1980s, technology, outsourcing, and the loss of manufacturing jobs kicked off a booming middle class economy with stagnant wages.
Ronald Regan's election saw the proliferation of free market beliefs: less government intervention could better determine the winners and losers of society. Regan also ushered in the era of great division between wealthy Americans and the middle class; which continues today.
Huffington says that an unregulated free market sooner or later is corrupted by fraud and excesses. Witness the bank bailouts and the Wall Street debacle of 2008.
American politics are shattered, as powerful lobbyists and American corporations rule Washington. The 2010 Upper Branch mine explosion in West Virginia were three examples of regulatory failures due to corporate pampering; BP oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico; and the continuing aftershocks of the financial collapse, including accusations of fraud against Goldman Sachs. The voice of the middle class is but an echo in the rooms of the Capitol.
Huffington writes animated analogies to make his point. When she talks about influential lobbyists, she says, "And like a swarm of termites that turn a house to sawdust, wealthy interests and their lobbyists are having a meal on the foundations of our democracy."
Each chapter ends with a profile of a once prosperous middle-class American who is now struggling economically. Their stories offer gems of 21st century insight, including "Stability is long gone, so you better do something you love!"
Third world america The title is extreme, Huffington admits, used to highlight our nation's possible future, without serious reform. She optimistically concludes, that our descent into a third world nation "is not a done deal".
Americans are known to be positive, forward-looking people with a positive outlook. Stopping the descent to a third world nation will not be easy. It will take bold initiatives from the private and public sectors and personal accountability. More than ever, we need to harness the most underutilized leadership resource available to us: ourselves. We will always need the raw energy that only big governments and credits can provide.
Ultimately, change happens at the local and personal level. Today it is up to us to help each other and to help each other. She advocates breaking with your big bank. Executives took the government bailout, paid themselves record bonuses; but are not sympathetic to Americans facing foreclosure. Instead, work with community banks and credit unions. The greatest antidote to despair is action; and resilience is essential to survive and thrive in the 21st century.
Huffington reflects Robert B. Reich's message, said in his concurrently published book, Aftershock: The NextAmerica's economy and future. Reich, former Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, also approves Third World America.
A book presents a voice. Although some support Huffington's point of view, Third world america is a thought-provoking read on the present and future state of the nation.
To stay up to date on Huffington & # 39; s take on Third World America, visit, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/third-world-america/