Who Stole the American Dream?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith argues that, over the past four decades, the American Dream has been dismantled. His book Who Stole the American Dream? examines the accidental beginnings of the 401(k) plan, the policy changes that began under Jimmy Carter; how the New Economy disrupted America’s engine of shared prosperity, and how America lost the title of “Land of Opportunity.” Smith documents how the U.S. policy tilt favoring the rich is stunting America’s economic growth.


Hedrick Smith

Comments [14]


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Mar. 07 2013 09:41 AM
larry elford from Canada

WINNER STEAL ALL! is the set of rules that bankers, regulators and politicians now operate on. The rest of us are a bit behind on this curve. See a dozen examples of winner steal all presented by a recovering Canadian broker here:

Oct. 08 2012 11:01 PM

Anyone remember 5.25% interest on savings accounts? This was a great pool of investible funds that RR took away from the middle class. If we want to get the dream back we need to put buying power back into middle class incomes.
Since the moon landing average wages have gone up at HALF THE RATE of the general economy. This is a prescription for creating more poor.

Sep. 12 2012 10:05 AM
tom LI

To shm from NY - he never said it was due to the higher taxes, but that they DIDNT constraint growth, and/or that the wealthy would stop investing, etc.

The GOP lie that the Rich need lower taxes to be the cause of productivity in this Nation is - well a LIE. Its an epic lie.

Sep. 11 2012 05:39 PM
shm224 from nyc

I generally agree with the author, but .. in the 50's, yes, the income tax was in 90's because the country was still paying for the WW2 / Korean War / millions of troops stationed all over the world. As much as 75% of all federal budget went straight to the DOD (and paying interests on the ww2 bonds). The 50's were prosperous not because of the exorbitant taxes, but because of spending cuts. Eisenhower was a fiscal conservative and, despite big gov't liberals' claim that the economy would relapse back into depression, he cut gov't spending.

Sep. 11 2012 05:33 PM
Allan Goldstein from New Jersey

Why don't share holders demand more corporate responsibility, with CEO pay. Like they do in Japan. It is my understanding that a CEO of a Japanese Company is a multiple of the average pay of all employees. That is from the executives below the CEO to the Janitor. This forces the CEO to pay the workers more so he gets a big pay check but at the same time must be sure there is enough profit on the bottom line for him to keep his job. This, I think, is a good way to achieve balance.

Sep. 11 2012 02:22 PM
Tim from nyc

The 401k plan was never meant to be the only retirement plan for Americans but at the end of the day most companies scrapped their pension plans leaving savings for retirement up to workers only. we will see a HUGE wave of poverty 20-30 years down the road. People unable to save, college grads that are years behind because of the insane cost of education in this country. The long term effects of the so-called "retirement plan" are disastrous.

Sep. 11 2012 02:00 PM
jp kaneshida from LA

You think 2008 was scary? HA! All I have is two words for middle America and the rest of the world that has its collective head in the sand: GET READY.

Back a year or so ago, Meredith Whitney made what I feel was a good call: munis are in crisis and are a disaster waiting to crash our economy. But it hasn't happened to the degree she called. Which prompts all of the cat-callers and hecklers.

They're wrong.

Why? Because of the same reason we didn't fall off the cliff in '08; uncle scam. Historic intervention and welfare on a scale that's mind-boggling. Literally, trillions out of thin air.

Anyone who believes that this is the right course and isn't making things worse BY NOT ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSES AS OPPOSED TO SYMPTOMS, I have a couple of tickets to Pluto for sale.

Also, notice how the bond market rebelled recently in Europe? And what did the ECB do?

To show you how far out of it even highly educated people are, I was recently near a top University and was stunned to see (what looked to be) young post-grad couples, walking around with a baby in a stroller and the woman with one in the oven. Having kids amidst the largest and most pervasive economic uncertainty in history? These are the "best and the brightest"??? Seriously?

PT Barnum really DID have us pegged.

Sep. 11 2012 01:52 PM
Amy from Manhattan

*Thank* you, Leonard. I was getting ready to ask about poor people, & then I didn't need to.

Sep. 11 2012 01:52 PM
Mia from Manhattan

Can Mr. Smith be more specific about the Citigroup ad he mentioned, targeting the wealthiest 1%?

Sep. 11 2012 01:51 PM
John A

Jack Welch compared to Reg Jones? Who follows that anymore? Nothing more plainly stops job creation like... destroying the jobs of ~100,000 as "Neutron" Jack Welch did. Could grab for Hedrick(sp?)'s book if he has a chapter on Jack's effects.

Sep. 11 2012 01:47 PM
RJ from Prospect Hts.

Will Mr. Smith next be examining the details of how he and his fellow reporters/bureau chiefs ended up buying into the system? Or perhaps how people who already bought into the system were hired as reporters and editors?

Also, the "benevolent" corporations that he refers to were more often than not founded by the robber barons at the end of the 19th century/early 20th who similar to Ford turned thugs on their workers, and that it was usually the unions (and Keynsianism)that forced them to see the value of their workers as purchasers.

Sep. 11 2012 01:43 PM

Hedrick Smith, not Hendrick !

The real fiscal cliff is the off-shoring of jobs & the taxes they generated when they were done in the US. 30 years of a negative trade balance which continues even now all due to off-shoring/out-sourcing, etc.

Sep. 11 2012 01:34 PM
suzinne from bronx

Corporate greed and Wall Street. The suffering these entities have brought on the American people is beyond horrendous. With a fiscal cliff looming, we can only wonder "How bad can it get?"

Sep. 11 2012 01:00 PM

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