Book Reviews & Citations
(06/12/05) Clyde Prestowitz and 3 Billion New Capitalists quoted in the Arizona Republic
The Arizona Republic
June 12, 2005 Sunday Final chaser Edition
HEADLINE: GOING NUMB AS AMERICAN DREAM FADES AWAY
BYLINE: Jon Talton, The Arizona Republic
Every time I tune into the electronic media, where most people get
their news, the top stories are the latest non-news from the Michael
Jackson trial and some sad disappearance of a young woman who happens
to be White and attractive. You could forgive the American people if
they assumed nothing else is going on.
In fact, the world keeps shifting under our feet.
Last week, General Motors said it would eliminate 25,000 jobs. In the
late 1970s, GM employed 600,000 workers, primarily in the Midwest,
providing some of the best and most secure jobs.
Almost lost in that smoke was an announcement by two furniture
manufacturers in North Carolina that they would cut 1,200 jobs. Like
textiles, furniture manufacturers once provided jobs that allowed
people with modest skills and education to move into the middle class,
especially in the South.
Meanwhile, the latest jobs report was far weaker than expected,
continuing a trend of anemic job creation at odds with the economy's
performance in the 1980s and 1990s. Among the biggest forces behind the
change is China's rise. Textiles and furniture have essentially been
lost to China. But China will be competing for jobs at the top, too.
In his new book, Three Billion New Capitalists, trade expert Clyde
Prestowitz argues that we're seeing only the start of a historic shift
of power to the east. As I have argued for some time, a century's worth
of progress in creating an American middle class is at stake.
Yet not everyone is making sacrifices if we are to draw down American living standards to compete with Asia.
In magisterial work for the New York Times, reporter David Cay Johnston
has documented the rise of the hyper-rich, the top 0.1 percent of
income earners. These 145,000 people are leaving everyone else far
behind, even those who would be considered wealthy. From 1980 to 2002,
the latest year where data are available, the share of total income
earned by the hyper-rich more than doubled. That earned by the bottom
90 percent of taxpayers declined.
Johnston's research also makes it clear that the new nobility was the
chief beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts. Those helped create a deficit
that will, we are told, force cuts to Social Security and college aid,
among other programs.
Speaking of college aid, Jackson watchers also probably missed news
that the federal government has changed the rules for Pell Grants.
That, combined with declining state support for universities, will keep
a record number of Americans from getting a college education.
These facts show some of the reasons the Wall Street Journal recently
looked at the data and concluded that upward economic mobility has
largely stalled in the United States. This historic ability to get
ahead through hard work is the "American dream."
Then there was the Times scoop about the White House official who was
editing official documents to downplay the link, accepted by scientific
consensus, between man-made greenhouse gases and climate change. The
official was formerly in the pay of the oil industry.
Far from being acts of nature, many of these trends are being propelled
by policy for the benefit of the few. And where these forces are
irresistible, Washington is failing to equip the American people to
If the goal is to numb the people, it's succeeding spectacularly.