Monday, September 15, 2003


In May of 2002, Barbara Ehrenreich published her book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. This book focused on the impossibility of living an American life if you are trying to do it in a minimum wage (or near minimum wage) job. Ehrenreich is a well-known author who spent a year actually trying out various jobs in the American economy like housekeeping, waitressing and working in Wal-Mart. She proved that it is impossible to make ends meet with jobs like these.

Now there's a new book out. It's called The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. This book says that if you are a middle class couple with both parents working, you may be just as bad off. The book has been reviewed in many different places, for example:This quote from Time is typical: "The Clarks' middle-class angst is shared by a generation of Americans who expected prosperity, or at least financial security, to be almost assured for the two-paycheck family. That assumption is increasingly misguided." Or this one, from MSNBC: "In fact, Ruth Ann and James probably knew plenty of families who were in just as much trouble as they were. The odds were certainly in favor of it. Over the past generation, the number of American families who have found themselves in serious financial trouble has grown shockingly large. In a world in which our neighbors seem to be doing fine and the families on television never worry about money, it is hard to grasp the breadth or depth of financial distress sweeping through ordinary suburbs, small towns, and nice city neighborhoods. "

So the question is this: If we are living in a country where it is virtually impossible to survive if you are working in minimum wage jobs, and if it is becoming impossible to survive even if both spouses are working in solidly middle-class "good" jobs, where are we headed? Is wealth concentrating so much that it becomes impossible for normal people to live in America and the economy collapses?

Here is one possible solution to consider: Reverse the concentration of wealth.

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