Don’t know much about history but why we should!!!

Read a review in today’s Washington Post about a book entitled “Who Stole the American Dream?” (By Herrick Smith).  This is the type of book that wets The Money Heifer’s appetite. After reading the review,  I couldn’t wait to read it. I purchased the book & downloaded to my Kindle Fire (my brother’s response – “it’s about time. You received the kindle in July.”  As my sister would say,  “whatever.”)

Anyway, below are three paragraphs from that review:

Smith views 1978 as a pivotal year. First,  Congress revised bankruptcy laws to allow troubled corporations to restructure rapidly by abrogating union contracts and other employee agreements. Second,  lawmakers enacted a little-noticed tax-code provision designed to let workers supplement existing pension plans with individual retirement accounts. Corporations unexpectedly seized upon the new plans as an excuse to eliminate expensive,  professionally administered,  lifetime pensions. The result: Employees’ share of retirement costs went from 11 percent in the 1950s to 51 percent by the mid-2000s ; insufficient or badly managed retirement investing by individual workers has given rise to predictions that perhaps half of aging boomers may end their lives in poverty. (Employers also took a parallel path in health insurance,  shifting costs to employees via higher premiums and deductions) .

Finally,  a 1978 Supreme Court decision permitted banks to offer high-interest,  low minimum-payment credit cards,  even to Americans with bad credit histories – sowing the seeds for a massive credit card debt bubble. That process,  followed two decades later by a residential real estate boom and bust,  eventually bankrupted millions of middle-class Americans.

“Who Stoke the American Dream?” provides a grim panorama of the real-world consequences of these power shifts: concentration of financial assets and higher incomes in fewer hands: race-to-the-bottom wage and salary dynamics (epitomized by the rise of Wal-Mart)  that put American producers against Asian sweatshop factories and results that,  in turn,  eviscerates small,  local retailers ; efforts by America’s highly admired high-tech moguls (from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates)  to transfer overseas much of our knowledge-based economy; the evolution of a Washington-Wall Street “symbiosis” that dominates White House and congressional policymaking and thrives on political gridlock.

Knowing the business and financial history is vital to understanding why this nation is in the fiscal and monetary mess that exists today. You see why The Money Heifer couldn’t resist the impulse purchase.

And this review of the book explains why our grandparents and maybe parents could do so many things but we today cannot afford to do.

Everyone should read this book. But if you can’t stomach such a heady topic,  may I recommend that you watch “In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts.”

Finally, with this huge income and wealth disparity between the super-rich and the rest of us (peons, serfs), one sentiment comes to mind: The love of money is the root of all evil.


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