We all worry about the world our children and grandchildren will inherit, and today there’s more reason than ever for concern. Hedrick Smith explains how things got so unpredictable in a talk at the Ebell on the themes of his new book, Who Stole the American Dream? on Wednesday, May 8 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10.
Copies of the book are available at Chevaliers, which has agreed to donate 10% of the purchase price to the Ebell. Chevalier’s will also offer the book for sale during the event, for Smith to sign.
Smith, a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers for The New York Times, has won other awards, including a solo Pulitzer for International Reporting from Russia and Eastern Europe. He describes the insights his research for Who Stole the American Dream? turned up:
“This is a reporter’s book, so my work began with lots of questions. Despite my decades of reporting, this book turned up loads of discoveries and surprises for me. For example, I didn’t know that the main victims of subprime loans were prime borrowers with good credit records. I didn’t know that homeowners lost $6 trillion to the big banks and Wall Street investors while the housing boom of the 2000s was going up! I didn’t know that the 401 (k) plan was never created as a national retirement program and that the results since the 1980s have been so bad that the median balance is only about $18,000.”
Smith adds, “My biggest surprise was that Louis Powell, the corporate attorney named to the Supreme Court in late 1971 by President Nixon, was actually a Paul Revere for a pro-business political revolt that changed the landscape of power in Washington and that still affects our politics and policies today.”
Smith believes “Millions of middle class Americans have been financially robbed of long-term economic security when their employers stopped providing lifetime pensions and pushed them into 401 (k) plans. This has shifted hundreds of billions of dollars of retirement costs every year from corporate books onto the checkbooks and pocketbooks of average employees. At the same time, the household incomes of typical middle class Americans has stagnated over the past 30 years while the lion’s share of corporate profits and of the growth and rising productivity of the U.S. Economy have gone to Corporate CEOs and super rich investors.”
The public has only a bare-bones understanding of the impact of the policies of the past 30-40 years on the living standards and the economic insecurity of middle class Americans, Smith believes. “People are bombarded with information about the latest noise from Washington and short-term political developments. But they rarely get good explanations of what is actually happening over the long-term so that they can connect the dots and make intelligent decisions about politics and push for the kind of political reforms that we so badly need to combat the gridlock in Washington today.”by Laura Foti Cohen Member of the Ebell of Los Angeles