Robert Reich (at Live Talks on Sept 29) book review and excerpt…
— Caught between rising aspirations and stagnant wages, Reich says, middle-class Americans have gone through a series of coping mechanisms. First, women joined the workforce, giving families a second income. Then husbands and wives put in longer shifts, creating a species of family called DINS — “double income, no sex.” Finally, families went into debt. In this sense, inequality helped to stoke the credit bubble…..
–Now that the bubble has burst, these coping mechanisms are exhausted. Americans are not going to push their working hours up even more……Nor are Americans going to incur more debts; to the contrary, the credit bust has forced them to pay down their balances. And so, as Reich puts it, Americans will “face a necessity they have managed to avoid for decades: They have to make do with less.”
–Reich concludes with a wish list of reforms that might head off such a confrontation. He wants a more progressive income tax, including negative taxes for anyone earning below $50,000. He wants a top income-tax rate of 55 percent, with the kicker that income from capital gains, now taxed at 15 percent, would face the same rate as income from salaries. He wants wage insurance — temporary compensation for workers who take big pay cuts when they shift jobs — as well as investments that make public transportation and Medicare more available.
Join us on Sept 29 at Zipper Hall at The Colburn School with Robert Reich in conversation with Kai Ryssdal..