Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class by Thom Hartmann

Despite its rather inflammatory title, this book is truly an excellent look at what has happened in economics and politics in the last 30 years. It is impossible to read this book and not understand what Hartmann is getting at; he emphasizes it in every single chapter, sometimes multiple times. His main thesis is that democracy cannot exist without a strong middle class, and that the ultra-conservatives who have taken over the Republican party have steadily weakened the American middle class. This weakens democracy, because it creates a feudal system, where a few rich families (or corporations) control the workers who are barely scraping by.
Hartmann documents this process very well, discussing how services have been taken away from the people and our democracy has been changed ever since Reagan became president. He makes a strong case for how detrimental trickle-down economics is, not only to the middle class, but to all of America. He then offers solutions, in very broad terms.
Hartmann ends the book on a very inspiring note. He outlines the steps that we need to take if we want to succeed, and even gives good reasons for why this can be done through the traditional two parties, rather than by creating a third party. I plan on hanging on to the book for a bit, just to refresh my memory on these steps. It has truly inspired me to get involved in local politics, something I've never really done before. I know that our democracy has seriously weakened over the last eight years, and Hartmann makes a good case for the fact that this began with Reagan, and continued through to the present time, even through Clinton's administration. It's up to us to bring it back to where it belongs, and make sure that all Americans have the same opportunities to succeed.

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