What We Need to Do to Save America's Middle Class
'Third World America': Why I Wrote the Book and What We Need to Do to Save America's Middle Class
Growing up, I remember walking to school in
I was 16 when I first came to this country, as part of a program called the Experiment in International Living. I spent the summer in
When I came to live here in 1980, I knew that this time would be for good -- and that there was no other place I'd rather live. Thirty years later, I still feel that way.
But something went wrong -- terribly wrong -- and put our country on a very dangerous path that threatens to transform us into Third World America.
It's a jarring phrase, I know, one that is deeply contrary to our national conviction that America is the greatest nation on earth -- as well as the richest, the most powerful, the most generous, and the most noble. It also doesn't match our day-to-day experience of the country we live in -- where it seems there is, if not a chicken in every pot, then a flat-screen TV on every wall.
So why did I call my new book, which is being released this week, "Third World America"?
For me, it's a warning, a way of saying that if we don't change course -- and quickly -- that could very well be our future.
Wherever I looked, and in so many of the stories we covered on the
It was the way that
What became clear while writing the book is that the decline of the middle class was no accident. Middle-class America didn't suddenly lose its mojo. It was the result of tricks and traps. Tricks in the ways we financed our homes. Traps in the ways credit-card companies used hidden fees and fine print and skyrocketing interest rates to get their hands on our money, driving more and more people into debt.
Here's the bottom line: The fix is in. The game is rigged. The dice are loaded. And it starts in
Given this, you might be surprised to hear that writing "Third World America" ultimately left me feeling hopeful. But it did. It's because, as I was traveling around the country or discovering online sites where people affected by the economic crisis are gathering and connecting, I was again and again struck by the resilience, creativity and acts of compassion taking place all across America.
They convinced me that we can turn things around, as long as we demand more from our political and business leaders -- and more, much more, from ourselves.
I'm in no way letting
At the same time, this moment in history demands that we stop waiting on others -- especially others living in
There is no doubt: Times are hard. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to wallow in despair or rage against the fading of the American Dream?
The preamble of the Constitution starts with "We the People." And we have never needed the active participation of each one of us more urgently than now. We can't save the middle class and keep America a First-World nation without each of us making a personal commitment and taking action -- without each of us doing our part. We can't just sit on the sidelines and complain. It's up to us: We the People.
It's time now to do the right things.
Available at Amazon.com:
- Why Cheaper Money Won't Mean More Jobs
- I, Market Economy
- What We Need to Do to Save America's Middle Class
- 5 Key Lessons in August's Jobs Report
- Jobless Uptick Masks Some Positive News
- Economists See More Home Price Declines Ahead
- Another Round of Class Warfare?
- Obama Targets Bush's Tax Cuts for the Rich
- United States Losing Latin America Market Share
- Widening Divide in American-Chinese Commercial Interests
- Election Day Shocker: 10 Percent Unemployment
- Is United States at End of Post-World War II Period of Economic Growth?
- Home Prices Likely to Slide After Sales Plummet
- Housing Demand Evaporates As Stimulus Ends
- What will happen to the housing market?
- Econquotes: By Obama, Samuelson, Becker, Reich, Karlgaard, Magnet, Etc
- Obama's Cronkite Moment?
- Interdependency Theory: China, India and the West
- Detroit's Economic Agony, America's Choice
- John Boehner's Economic Prescription
- Confessions of a Class Worrier
- Home Builders Not Driving Economic Recovery
- National Deficit: The Ticking Debt Bomb
- Third World America
- States Don't Need a Bailout; States Need to Cut Spending
- Federal Reserve Moves to Support Low Mortgage Rates
- Jobs Report Paints a Picture of Nervous Employers
- Why We Shouldn't Keep the Bush Tax Cut for the Wealthy
- Magical Thinking in Washington
- Wake Up Washington
- What Year Is This?
- Germany's Good Fortune Tips the Scales Against its Neighbors
- Housing Market Takes Another Step Backwards
- Some Good News for Job Seekers
- The Great Decoupling of Corporate Profits From Jobs
- Three Key Ways to Drive Job Growth
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- Home Sales Rebound From Record-Low Levels
- Place the Blame Where It Belongs
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- Weak Demand & Tight Credit Keeps Builders On Sidelines
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- The Vanishing American Consumer and the Coming Trade War
- Why the Economy Isn't Quite as Bad as It Seems
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- Why Congress Cannot Afford Not to Extend Unemployment Benefits
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- The Economy's Lasting Impact on Your Retirement
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- Imperative Need for America to Become an Innovation Nation
- Jobs Bill a Tough Call for Democrats
- What Soldiers at War Can Teach Us About Surviving Financial Warfare
- 5 Things to Know About the Newest Jobs Bill
- New Home Sales Plummet to Record Low
- The Housing Market's Unexpected Drop
- When Obama Trades Jobs for a Higher Priority
- When National Politics and Home-State Economics Collide
- Reasons -- and Ways -- to Splurge This Summer
- What China's Currency Reform Means For Investors
- The Democrats' Economic Vision Problem
- Urban Abandonment
- Coping With China's Financial Power
- Is the Recession Over?
- Managing Debt Remains Key in Face of An Uncertain Economy
- Home Repossessions Hit New Record High
- 2010 Elections Will Turn on Jobs and the Economy
- Chamber of Commerce Aims to Boost Trade With China
- America Has Two Sets of Rules
- Why May Jobs Report is Better and Worse Than it Looks
- Jobless Economic Recovery Remains Issue Number One
- What Financial Reform Means For Consumers
- Financial Reform Legislation Gives Shareholders More Say
- Financial Reform: Win for Wall Street - Cold Shoulder for Main Street
- Fiduciary Provision May Be Most Important Part of Financial Reform Bill
- Unfair Trade Practices Are Wiping Out Jobs
- In a Welfare State How Much Is 'Enough'?
- Should Investors Sit This One Out?
- Why Jobless Teens May Have More to Blame Than the Recession
- What Home Sales Jump Means for Economic Recovery
- Home Prices Have Further to Fall: Here's Why
- Why Housing is Headed for Second-Half Headaches
- Nancy Pelosi Will Lead America to National Ruin
- Financial Reform's Uncertain Promise
- The Way We're Working Isn't Working
- What Gold Can and Cannot Do For You
- Why Some Women Skirt the Wage Gap
- The Crippling Price of Public Employee Unions
- European Union Funding Proposal Is Only the Beginning
- Why Wall Street's Gain Has Been America's Loss
- Euro Crisis has American Fingerprints
- Wall Street Probes: Collateralized Debt Obligations
- Voters See Debt Crisis. Why Doesn't Washington?
- Social Security Inflation Adjustment Debate
- European Debt Crisis Affects Investments
- Greece: Model of Socialistic Excess
- Who Got Hit Worst in the Market Crash
- Expeditionary Economics: Spurring Growth After Conflicts and Disasters
- Why More Diplomacy Won't Keep the Financial System Safe
- Muddling through Greece's Tremors
- Greece Financial Crisis Raises Doubts About European Union
- Bigger Is Better: Case for Transatlantic Economic Union
- European Union: A Fragile Partnership
- Goldman Sachs Testimony Boost for Financial Reform
- A Culture of Criminality on Wall Street
- Greek Debt Crisis May Hurt Latin America Economy
- Why April's Unemployment Rise Shows Workers Hopeful Again
- Smart Moves for Tomorrow's Higher Interest Rates
- Still the Optimist
- The Global Glass Ceiling: Why Empowering Women Is Good for Business
- Life in the Age of 'Much Worse Than We Thought It Would Be'
- What 3.2 Percent GDP Growth Says About Our Contradictory Economy
- Congress Had a Role in the Financial Crisis
- Just a Few Questions for the SEC
- Financial Crisis - Somebody Must Pay!
- Is Latin America Booming? Not Quite Yet
- Guns vs. Butter 2010
- Your Guide to the Goldman Sachs Lawsuit
- Can SEC Beat Goldman Sachs?
- Time to Break up the Big Banks
- Resisting Wall Street Reform
- Shorting The Middle Class: The Real Wall Street Crime
- Obama Edge on Financial Reform
- 10 Cities Facing Double Whammy of Default Risks
- Capitalism vs. Capitalists
- Business Schools' Great Ethics Debate
What We Need to Do to Save America's Middle Class
(c) 2010 Arianna Huffington