middle class

Lewis Hine, via Wikimedia Commons

A century ago, Manchester, New Hampshire was known for just one thing: the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.

“Amoskeag at one time, at its peak, around World War I, was more than 17,000 employees,” says John Clayton, executive director of the Manchester Historic Association and a longtime New Hampshire journalist.

  “So if you consider the scale of the city, at least half of the people who lived in this community worked for Amoskeag.”

Sara Plourde

The statistics are grim. Since the late 1970s, incomes for the top 1% of Americans have quadrupled, while real wages for the bottom half of the workforce have stagnated. Just this week, Oxfam International reported that the 85 richest people on earth, now have the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the global population. So what does this all mean for the American ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? In his latest book Who Stole the American Dream?  Hedrick Smith chronicles the dismantling of America’s middle class over four decades. Smith is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and the author of many books, including The New Russians, and Rethinking America.

By looking at corporate and financial structures from an historical perspective, Smith contends that over four decades our middle class has been dismantled and that we have become two Americas.

GUEST:

  • Hedrick Smith - author, prize-winning investigative reporter and documentary producer. Among the books that Smith has written are The Power Game: How Washington Works and Rethinking America.

*Hedrick Smith will be appearing at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord on Tuesday, October 22nd at 7.

For a long time, 'middle class' meant 'comfortable'.  It was a place to strive for and once there, it meant a stable job, a nice home and secure retirement.  But a recent study by the Pew Research Center describes a 'Lost Decade' of the Middle Class, finding this groups to be fewer, poor and gloomier due to the economic crisis.