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.
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.