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The Betrayal of the American Dream    by Donald Barlett & James Steele order for
Betrayal of the American Dream
by Donald Barlett
Order:  USA  Can
PublicAffairs, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

You'll be hearing a lot about the plight of the American middle class over the next two months. Depending on how you wish to define it, this segment of American society can constitute anywhere from 25 to 65 percent of the households in the country. The income of those typified as middle class can stretch from $30,000 a year to $100,000.

No matter how you define this amorphous group of Americans, one thing seems abundantly clear. The middle class in this country is under siege. These folks have been hit hard by the fall in home prices, lost more than their fair share of jobs and have probably lost, proportionally, more of the money they set aside for retirement as the financial system malfunctioned than other individuals.

In The Betrayal of the American Dream, Donald Barlett and James Steele investigate the actions of Washington and Wall Street that have systematically not only dismantled the foundations of the American middle class but all but destroyed the chance that some individuals have of ever achieving the much heralded American Dream.

The authors of America: What Went Wrong, a book that appeared in 1992 and created quite a stir, Barlett and Steele again address the economy, government and social class as they look at where we are today.

They spread the blame between both political parties as well as a group of wealthy and powerful individuals and corporations that are dubbed 'the ruling class' in the book.

Charging that Washington has turned its back on average Americans, the authors write, 'We are no longer the democracy we once were. We have become a plutocracy in which the few enact programs that promote their narrow interest at the expense of the many.'

One of the purposes of this book is to show how the huge wealth gap in this country happened. As it undermines the foundation of the middle class, this situation also threatens the well being of the entire nation.

From outsourcing and the misguided free trade movement to the problems brought about by deregulation, this book looks behind the headlines we have been reading for the past decade. A lack of regulation, trickle-down theories, and tax policies have also caused more problems than even some of their staunches advocates could have imagined.

Frankly, this is a book that will elicit some strong emotions in the reader. There are those who will feel they are being singled out and unfairly picked-on for causing our current economic woes. Many others will experience a sense of helplessness and frustration. They will be not only angry but also feel betrayed by those in Washington and on Wall Street.

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