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I gotta read Barbara Ehrenreich's latest! If my library doesn't have it, I'll request for purchase.

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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-04-09 12:42 PM
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I gotta read Barbara Ehrenreich's latest! If my library doesn't have it, I'll request for purchase.
Book Review: This Land Is Their Land - Reports from a Divided Nation by Barbara Ehrenreich

When historians begin to analyze what brought about the decline and fall of the most-powerful and affluent empire in the history of Earth, they will turn to the works of Barbara Ehrenreich as much as to Xenophon, Vegetius, and Gibbon. Ehrenreich's output will offer a view focused on a specific aspect that is lacking in the works of these great historians - that of the common citizen adversely affected by the covetous blunders of their leaders. That is indeed the focus of Ehrenreich's latest, This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation.

So how did a land which once thought "we're all in this together" become a place where the people are designated "us and <*shudder*> THEM"? Ehrenreich positions the successful opening salvos aimed at the less-affluent with the election of Ronald Reagan, who was the first candidate to successfully bedazzle the electorate with his high-sounding phrases, utterances which -- if one merely reads them instead of listening to a trained-actor's delivery -- are almost completely devoid of intelligent meaning. (A serious editor could reduce Reagan's speeches into their true language of boosting the prospects of the prosperous, yet without those services, the people succumbed to the Incubus of Inequity and surrendered what remained of their self-interest in support of hostile economic opponents.) Ehrenreich notes the issues these political scripts as presented kept the public too busy to "whip up rage at the economic overclass" as said overclass continued to promote a future of pie-in-the-blue-sky over the present reality of increasing deprivation.

As this lower-to-middle economic class no longer has much in the way of assets to acquire, Ehrenreich notes that George W. Bush has since utilized the beachheads established by Reagan to the point that the "uberrich" have begun their own version of Operation Barbarossa on the "merely rich." This can be seen in the billion-dollar bonuses "awarded" to a few hedge fund managers last December while their "merely rich" clients were losing their investment portfolios in the likes of Countrywide and Bear Sterns. A few of these are becoming as destitute as the mere peasants they formerly disdained while they gleefully fleeced the lowly out of retirements and even homes to provide the means for taking a huge bonus out of company coffers.

As important as these losses are to those who paid those costs, Ehrenreich presents her analysis of the collapse of the American economy as being due to the consumer-driven economy having run out of discretionary capital. Despite working longer hours, American workers are realizing less after-tax and after-necessity dollars than before. Money that once went to fund flying to a resort vacation is now being used to pay for medical care which is no longer provided by the employer. (This does, of course, assume that there is still a job to provide income, as one contract employee of Genentech discovered one day.) Money that once leased a Hummer to haul around town in is now sucked up by the variable rate mortgage taken out to pay for it until it was repossessed

There is so much more that Ehrenreich offers as proof this nation has gone insane with greed: employees expected by their bosses to wear adult diapers on the job in order to "improve productivity" (You gotta be effing kidding!), military personnel who are going bankrupt while serving tours of active duty, and more than I have space to relate to you. But then, with This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation coming out in print, Barbara Ehrenreich has spared me that chore. /

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juno jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-04-09 01:26 PM
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1. Just finished reading that- Highly recommend it. n/t
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